Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Club Visit - Balboa High School

(Yes, I took this photo this morning. The campus is just that pretty)

I've been spending a lot of time in high school lately and loving every minute of it. Today's visit was at the lunchtime book club at Balboa High School in San Francisco. I have to say that book clubs are my most favorite visits to do - sitting in a room while 20 people talk about my book? Yes, please.

The book club was wonderful and as befitting The City,very civilized with tea and homemade cookies. The teens were really attentive and interested (at least they faked it well) and had lots of great questions. We talked about Dirty Little Secrets and about young adult books in general. One of the best moments was chiming in as they picked the book for next month - Jay, you won, they're doing 13 Reasons Why.

As I was looking around the room, it hit me again how important engaged and energetic librarians are to the success of any school. Both Marla Bergman, the librarian from the Public Library, and Molly Lazarus, the school librarian at Balboa, make their time available to get kids interested in reading. The room was bustling the entire time with teens hanging out during their lunch hour, reading or discussing books. The displays were full of new titles, so many that I had a stack that I wanted to borrow by the end of the day (alas, my high school library card has long expired). The kids were excited about the books we were discussing and about choosing books they want to read next. It was fabulous and refreshing.

I thought about this all the more because I was missing my own turn as elementary school librarian today. Because of budget cuts, our district got rid of all elementary school librarians so the parents rallied together and we all take turns sitting at the desk checking books in and out for the kids. I put on my library hat on Tuesday afternoons (don't worry, another parent filled in for me - thanks Todd!). Because we sit in, the kids are able to check out two books every week - for many kids, the only books they have access to on a regular basis. But we don't do all of the other things great librarians do. We don't book talk new titles or look for new titles to buy. We don't put together reading groups so that kids can find books that they would like to read for fun. We're like the checkout people at the grocery store - I can wield a scanner and tell you what's overdue, but that's about it.

We need our great librarians back.

Thanks again to the great folks at Balboa High School who read Dirty Little Secrets and then let me come in and talk about it!

On this date: In 1998, student Matthew Shepard died in an anti-gay assault.


Caroline Starr Rose said...

Yes, yes, and yes!

I recently stopped by my high school library to introduce myself to the librarian. I was so thrilled to see how interested she is in getting kids to read. A HUNGER GAMES book discussion is scheduled for this month.

Though an avid reader in high school, I had no idea "real" books were even available at the school library. In fact, I think I went in the library twice in four years. Yes, I should have been more active in finding out what was there, but still, I agree librarians are the key to making school libraries vibrant.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, I completely agree. A library is really only as good as its librarians. And that isn't a judgement on the people who staff libraries, it's a judgement on the people who make funding decisions. A librarian can only do so much without support.

So sad.

cynjay said...

Its so sad to me that during budget cuts, librarians are among the first to go. Like books and reading are an afterthought.

Carin S. said...

Did you know this month is National Rading Group Month? You gotta love libraries!