School Libraries Remain Safe Spaces Where Everyone Belongs

It’s National Library Week, and the perfect time to celebrate the 28 libraries and librarians in Comal ISD.

In a digital world where everyone practically owns a hand-held device and receives news and information in an instant, libraries and even books may seem a little old fashioned, almost ancient, but school libraries and books are just as important today as they’ve ever been.

Sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the 2019 theme of School Library Month is “Everyone Belongs @ Your School Library.” For the popular children’s author of “Captain Underpants,” Dav Pilkey, who was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, the library was his refuge.

As this year’s AASL spokesperson, Pilkey says choosing whatever book or magazine he wanted to read from the library as a child was a turning point in his education. It was a place where he wasn’t judged for what he chose and that made him a lifelong reader.

Maybe that is why libraries continue to stand the test to time; because they remain safe spaces where everyone belongs.

“Students have learned that our library is a non-judgement zone and are open to asking for the kinds of reading materials they want,” says Melissa Zipp, librarian at Danville Middle School. “The library should be a learning commons space. A place to go to get the desired reading materials, but also a place to seek help, seek advice and seek the ability to gain access to virtual locations. It should be a place not to be judged for the knowledge one is seeking.”

Zipp, who has been a librarian in the district for 10 years, wants students to know that all they need to do is be willing to ask for help when they come into the library.

“Reading is power; power to know what it’s like to be someone you’re not; power to travel to places you’ll never be able to physically go; and power to understand concepts you’ve never been taught,” she says.

This power begins for students in elementary school where librarians support classroom teachers and students. Serving as resources as well as teachers, librarians teach elementary students necessary library skills, digital citizenship and introduce them to the world of literature.

“Elementary kids still prefer print materials over digital,” says Kendra Bowden, librarian at Arlon Seay Elementary. “They love being ‘old-enough’ to check out books on their own, and libraries help kids associate reading with enjoyment from a very early age while providing an extension to their normal classroom learning. My hope is that they become lifelong lovers of literature.”

In order to become a school librarian in a Texas public school, one must have two years of classroom teaching experience in a public or accredited private school and a master’s degree preferably in library science.

Prior to becoming the librarian at ASES, Bowden taught English/Language Arts at Smithson Valley Middle and Canyon Middle schools, while Zipp taught elementary school at the former Comal Elementary campus for 17 years before becoming a librarian.

“I have always loved to read,” says Bowden whose favorite book series as a child was The Babysitters Club. “I had every one of those books and they were all on my bookshelf in series order, of course. I guess I should have known then that I would be a librarian. I was the kid that read with the flashlight after being told to go to bed. I love sharing my love for reading with kids.”


Photos from top

-Pictured from left is Danville Middle School Eighth-Grade Student Gabe Perez with DMS Librarian Melissa Zipp.

-From Left, Arlon Seay Elementary Librarian Kendra Bowden makes a snow cone for Fourth-Grader Caitlyn Ortiz who met her Accelerated Reader goal.


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