School libraries became a mainstream norm in the 1950s and '60s as public schools received increased funding from both public and private donors to better prepare students in science and math. They were conceived of, and have evolved, to be places where students can access print resources, as well as technology. In past years, students may have learned how to use a card catalog to find information. Just as in public libraries, those days are gone.
Students in District 100 have no need to use a school library as a center for learning how to research. Every classroom is a learning laboratory with wireless devices that allow endless access to knowledge and collaboration across the globe. Because not every book is available digitally, we have tens of thousands of books located throughout our schools, including our school libraries. Our students are not bound to a text book or encyclopedia printed years earlier. Nor are the students confined by their geographical location to where they may learn.
Our students are no longer dependent upon the expertise or guidance of any one individual or source for learning. Our students are developing their own personal learning networks.
Enrollment continues to grow. The citizens of the community chose not to provide funding to add classrooms to our crowded schools. Re-purposing our current library space is one way that we are adding classroom space. Pershing School’s former library will become a multi-age kindergarten and first-grade classroom. Our books will move to the large, well-lit, seldom used stage in our gym. Students will be able to check out books as in past years. Additionally, we are planning to provide a time after school that parents may check out books with their students.
While our spaces for learning will continue to evolve in response to our finances and population, our staff is committed to providing the very best educational opportunities despite meager resources. Because of a committed staff and Board of Education, we are able to conceive of ways to reach our vision of being a top 25 percent district, despite the current financial climate of our community and state.
Marilyn McManus is the principal of Pershing Elementary School