Saturday, January 7, 2012

In Defense of the Librarian.

Growing up, I understood some very important aspects of my life: what team I was picked for kick-ball, what episode of Blossom we watched at the babysitter’s, and which book I read before I went to bed. I feel very blessed to have lived such a privileged childhood in which these were my biggest worries. I had two siblings (an antsy sister and an athletic brother)—who followed me in school. While we are completely different, we all understand the importance of the written word. That is, we all love to explore the unseen. We love the development of the mind. We love our imaginations. We love losing ourselves in another’s thoughts. Erin, Patrick and I love to read.  

How amazing is that!? We grew up in a household where there wasn’t a Nintendo or Playstation, or Xbox. We grew up where books were the ordinary and DVDs were the extraordinary. We preferred our imagination to someone else’s. And why did we grow up in a place where reading was an accepted part of life? Because our mother, Mary Linda Burmester believed it so, that’s why.

See, I credit my mom with nearly everything I’ve learned in life. Not because she was there every single step of the way—throughout  shitty algebra and the complicated chemistry and  the awful fifth-grade long division, but because she stressed the importance of learning to read.  I remember sitting on her lap, leaning on her chest, and listening to her heart beat as she read my Junie B. Jones books. At the time I didn’t understand the hilarity of Barbara Park, but I remember how my mom cracked up reading her stories, and how because of my mother’s laughter, I too wanted to hear more. Because of my mom, I’ve developed a love for reading that I otherwise would not have. And I know she has affected other people in the same way.

You may be wondering why I’m saying all this, but the truth is I feel I need to get something off my chest. My mom is an amazing woman who has blessed more than just me with a love for reading. Since I was in grade school, Mom has been a media specialist in the Davenport School District. She has helped innumerable children discover the power of reading. She has taught inner-city students how they can rise above what they have been given just by picking up a book and teaching themselves something they would not learn in the classroom. She has been an ambassador for books. And unfortunately, her position as guardian of the knowledge may be compromised this spring. Mary Linda, along with all other media specialists (aka librarians) in the Davenport School District may be losing their jobs this spring due to budget cuts.

I understand that tough economic times force tough decisions. However, I do not believe that cutting the position of media specialist in every school in the Davenport School District will have a good impact on the students of the Quad Cities. Who will teach people how to find a research book using the Dewey Decimal System? Who will teach students the importance of citing their sources when they write a paper? And most importantly, who will echo a parent’s effort to teach a child to learn to read at an early age if there is no one to read Skippy John Jones to them in the school’s library every Thursday?

I may be going off on a tangent, but I believe the position of librarian and media specialist should not be cut. I believe if it weren’t for the efforts of men and women like my mother, M.Linda Burmester, we would be in a much worse situation than we are today. So please, if you read this, pass this on to someone who you think could benefit from what I have to say. We cannot lose our librarians. They are ambassadors for the leather bound cover, the smell of ink, and importance of the written word.  Thank you.