I work for the Santa Clara County Office of Education Learning Multimedia Center also known as the Professional Library for Educators and Administrators. Yesterday our library hosted what we call a Library Summer Camp. It sounds like a book festival for kids but it is really a professional development conference for school library staff. “Campers” enjoy book talks, workshops and networking. It is a favorite day of mine because it is a rare opportunity for librarians and library aids to emerge from their schools and mingle with others in their field. Probably the most overlooked scholars working in the beleaguered school system today, we celebrate school librarians, cheer for them and lift them up as best we can. In times of budget cuts and administrators fatally underestimating the value of a strong library system (“now that we have the internet, we don’t need libraries! They are a thing of the past”), a day like this is sorely needed. Numbers had been dwindling but the good news is this year attendance has started to climb again. What this means, we don’t know. Santa Clara County school librarians and aides used to make up the greatest number of participants. Today, they are replaced by librarians from all over the state. I suspect this is because not only have the County school libraries dwindled but so have the professional development opportunities for school library staff statewide. We may be becoming one of the few acts in town, so to speak. Some county offices across the state have closed their school library support programs and professional libraries. The reach of our support may be filling a gap for the few districts around still trying to properly staff their libraries with trained professionals and paraprofessionals. In any case, it is still my favorite professional event and I can’t help but hope we make our colleagues in the schools feel they are not alone and maybe just that much more prepared to greet the new school year.
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