Dear Editor,

After attending the Cedar Grove Board of Education meeting on February 27, 2018 and speaking publicly regarding the lack of a Media Specialist in the school, I am attaching the letter I read to the Board and Mr. Fetherman requesting they look into hiring a Media Specialist for the 2018-19 school year. I am writing this to bring awareness to our community that Memorial Middle School lacks such a necessary resource for our children.

I respectfully request the Cedar Grove Board of Education and Mr. Fetherman strongly consider advertising for and appointing a Media Specialist for Memorial Middle School. “The School Library Media Specialist”, according to the NJ Department of Education, has “functions which include delivery of instruction in information literacy skills and the development and coordination of school library media programs and resources.  The functions also include the delivery of instruction in the evaluation, selection, organization, distribution, creation and utilization of school library media. Media are defined as all print, non-print and electronic resources including the technologies needed for their use.”

Sign Up for E-News

To become lifelong learners, one must possess Informational literacy skills which, according to Wesleyan University, include:

  • Identify information needs and determine the extent of information needed.  Clearly and concisely define the question to be answered, and realize that the question may evolve.

  • Locate and retrieve appropriate sources of information.

    • Understand the structure of information: how is it produced, disseminated, organized, cataloged, stored, and retrieved, and how these factors vary by discipline.  For example, how do scholars or professionals keep up to date in and contribute to their field.

    • Use indexes and other search tools effectively and efficiently to find specific resources (e.g., select appropriate tools, formulate search strategies, use appropriate search techniques, evaluate results)

  • Evaluate information and its sources critically.

    • Understand different types of sources and formats, and how to use them.

    • Evaluate the relevance and reliability of the information retrieved.

  • Synthesize the information retrieved, integrate it into one's current knowledge base, and successfully apply it to the original information need.

  • Present this newly acquired knowledge so that others can use it.

    • Determine the audience's needs and the best presentation format; know the standards and criteria for presenting information in the relevant subject/field/discipline.

    • Properly cite sources: direct the audience to sources of further information and acknowledge one's sources.

  • Translate these abilities and concepts to new projects and disciplines.

In addition to providing access to information, librarians assist students in developing research skills appropriate for their particular needs and levels of scholarship. A media specialist would be able to offer course-integrated instruction sessions with whole classes, small groups, and individual students.

As Lyndon Baines Johnson said when signing the Elementary and Secondary School Act in 1965, “Education is the only valid passport from poverty....we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for more than five million educationally-deprived children. We put into the hands of our youth more than 30 million new books, and into many of our schools their first libraries.”

Additionally, studies have shown, “There was a significant positive relationship between a majority of the 21 library services regularly provided and student achievement at all levels. Total library services were significantly related to student achievement at all levels when controlling for all school and community variables.”   Achterman, Doug. 2008. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California.

<http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9800/>

“When comparing schools with and without librarians, the study indicates that the presence of a qualified school librarian can make a tremendous difference in reading achievement. This difference ranges from eight percent for high schools to 35 percent for elementary schools. For instance, schools with librarians have 35 percent more fourth graders who score proficient or above than schools without librarians”. Rodney, Marcia J., Keith Curry Lance, and Christine Hamilton-Pennell. 2003. The Impact of Michigan School Libraries on Academic Achievement: Kids Who Have Libraries Succeed. Lansing, MI: Library of Michigan.

<http://www.michigan.gov/documents/hal_lm_schllibstudy03_76626_7.pdf>

Furthermore,“The school library provides a wealth of curriculum-based resources as well as opportunities for students to learn at a personal level of inquiry, outside the assigned curriculum.” Goodin, Susie M., S.M. 2010. “Steps Towards Unifying Literacy Theory and

Librarianship.” CSLA Journal, 34 (1): 24-25. <http://www.csla.net/images/stories/publications/pdfs/journal/10/10_springjournal.pdf>

As a taxpayer I completely understand the needs to stay within the budget and 2% cap, however, as a parent, I cannot fathom how our middle school lacks such an important piece of our children’s educational program.

I respectfully request you revisit the need for a Media Specialist at Memorial Middle School and take the appropriate action in securing one for September 2018.

Thank you for your support and consideration in procuring a Memorial Middle School Library Media Specialist.

Regards,

Janice Tufaro

Cedar Grove resident