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Many people asked that I post the letter that I sent to the editor of our local 
newspaper.  Please make changes as you wish.  If you do use it, please send me a 
copy of your new letter.

Here it is:

"Do you have to go to school for that?"  "Are you the same as a teacher?"  "I 
didn't know you needed a degree to be a librarian."  "You teach? ... I thought you 
just checked out books in the library."   These comments, and many others, are the 
bane of the elementary school librarian.  I have been trying for years to dispel 
these myths.  So, what better way to do that than to write a letter to the editor 
during National Library Week.   
So let's get to it.  1.  "Do you have to go to school for that?"  Yes, we do.  In 
the state of PA all public school librarians must have a four year undergraduate 
degree in Library Science while some schools require a master's degree in Library 
Science.  In other states, there are similar requirements. (I went to Clarion 
University for my undergrad and master's degree) 
2.  "Are you the same as a teacher?"  Yes and no.  I am on the same pay scale and 
schedule as the teachers in my school.  However, I have the joy of teaching ALL 
students in my school at least once a week.  I give grades and create integrated 
lessons with my colleagues. A typical day might go like this:  8:00 Planning 
meeting with sixth grade teachers about an upcoming unit on biomes, 8:25 Help 1st 
grade student find a book that is "purple with wavy lines on it." 8:35 Send out a 
mass e-mail to our teachers about a web site on reading readiness, 8:40 Write 
lesson plan for upcoming biome unit, 9:00 Assist student teacher who has no clue 
where to find materials about the War of 1812, 9:20 4th grade arrives to learn 
about using an atlas and exchange library books.  As the day progresses, I will 
teach 4th, 6th, 5th, K, 2nd, 1st and 3rd grades respectively.   While all this is 
happening, teachers will come in make requests:  "I need a new overhead bulb," or 
"I need a suggestion for a good adventure novel," and then, "Do you know of a good 
web site about plants for 1st grade?"   So, I'm definitely a teacher but also a 
librarian.  I guess I could emulate our Canadian neighbors to the north and call 
myself a "Teacher Librarian."
            3.  "I thought all you did was check out books." I have heard this 
comment more times than I would like.  As evidenced by #2, my day is full of 
teaching.  Yes, I check out books, but that is only a small piece of the puzzle.  
What I didn't mention in #2 is the amount of time that I spend on collection 
development (creating a library with the right materials for the curriculum), 
writing lesson plans, advising students on the best mystery or adventure, planning 
for and attending our monthly Breakfast Book Club, etc.  My day is busy from the 
moment I arrive till the moment I leave.
School librarians are more than book "checker outers."  We are definitely not the 
stereotypical bun and glasses wearing archetype of old.  Our profession is changing 
and so are we. We are young and old, tall and short, trendy and old fashioned, etc. 
but above all we are here to help students.  So the next time someone tells you 
that they are a school librarian, PLEASE don't ask, "Do you have to go to school 
for that?"
Happy National Library Week,
Angela Long
Homer-Center Ele.
Homer City, PA 15759
Shattering librarian stereotypes every day!

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