Keep the school librarians

It is disturbing that Hawaii Department of Education administrators seem to be ignoring both local and national school library standards and the research that documents the importance of the school library media center in our educational system. Fortunately, the students at Konawaena High School who are protesting the possible elimination of their school’s full-time librarian do understand this.

The public may not realize this has already happened in two nearby schools. Both Konawaena Middle and Kealakehe Intermediate school students have not had a qualified school librarian with a master’s degree in library science for several years and have seen a yearly, or more, change of library staff as clerks, teachers or even administrators who are not qualified for the position are put in charge of the library without the necessary training or the qualifications to legally remain in the position. The Hawaii Department of Education requires a school librarian to have a master’s degree in library science, as well as a teaching certificate in another subject area.

This constant turnover of staff and the practice of not getting substitutes when the person running the library is ill or away has resulted in both prolonged and occasional closures of the libraries, denying access to students and teachers of library materials at the point of need, and will result in the gradual deterioration of the libraries’ collection, delaying the implementation of a strong library program.

If the Konawaena High School librarian position is reduced, high school students from South Kona will not be afforded the same educational opportunities as those who go to the more affluent and much larger Kealakehe High School, which has a strong library program supported by its principal. Konawaena students, parents and the public should fight for keeping its full-time school librarian and reinstating a qualified librarian at both middle schools.

Cheryl King is a resident of Kailua-Kona.

Viewpoint articles are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of West Hawaii Today.