CLEARFIELD – A former elementary librarian, Peggy Barton, shared her concerns about the lack of library services for fourth, fifth and sixth graders at the Clearfield Area Elementary School during Monday’s school board meeting.
“I have a passion for libraries,” she said. “I’m hearing our students are missing out on library, information literacy, research, etc., which are so very important. We are in an age of an information explosion and need our students to be critical consumers of information.”
She added, “You can’t just accept that ‘hey, this is the top hit in my Google search.’ No, you have to think more.” She explained students need to learn to be very discriminative when evaluating information to make sure it’s a valid authority without any bias.
Barton said she realized there are physical limitations with the CAES library. She also realized that it can only accommodate so many students during the teachable moments over the course of a school week.
However, she said that the board and administration can commit to hiring a second elementary librarian for the CAES. With another librarian, she said it can make a difference and equip fourth, fifth and sixth grade students with library and information literacy skills.
Barton said she served as an elementary librarian for 27 years with the Clearfield Area School District. Through her service, she’s developed relationships with students who now share with her that they aren’t getting library time.
She said the CAES currently has a hole in its educational foundation with students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades not having library access. “We do have physical limitations, and that can’t be easily changed,” she said.
“But we also have technology, an online catalog, access to electronic resources, etc. These can push back any physical walls with our library that we may have.”
If the CAES had two librarians, she said one could focus on library opportunities for students in kindergarten through the third grades. The other, she said, could be focusing on library opportunities for students in the fourth through sixth grades.
“It’s imperative that we give our students the very best education that we can,” said Barton. “We have to make sure our students are getting library and research skills, and the fourth, fifth and sixth grades are a great age for students to get project-based library skills.
“We have to take the time to think outside of the box. We don’t want to let another school year pass us by with the students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades not having any library services. We want every single student to have the library experience.”
Barton said school board members were welcome to contact her personally to further discuss her library concerns or with library-related questions.