SFUSD Doesn’t Go By the Book When it Comes to School Libraries
By Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne
As a former English teacher, one of my favorite places in school is the library. The library is a special place for many reasons -- it’s a nurturing and inviting space where students experience all things literary, from reading to writing to exploring the world of knowledge. Learning never ends in a library.
To celebrate National School Library Month in April, I want to share a few things that make our public school libraries here in San Francisco a little extra special.
At SFUSD, we don’t go by the book when it comes to libraries. Thanks to the support of San Francisco voters, our libraries are well resourced. Funds from the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) allow us to have teacher librarians at all SFUSD elementary, K-8, middle and high schools in our district. This is unique for public schools in California. By contrast, in 2004, the year before the enrichment fund began, only 18 percent of our schools had credentialed librarians.
School libraries provide a space where each and every student has the opportunity to be curious and develop their own understandings and perspectives. Libraries allow students to research their personal interests and exchange opinions with peers.
In our school libraries, you will find students engaged in culturally responsive book clubs, comic book arts, 3D printing, origami and building sets, podcasting, and video studios, just to name a few activities. Our librarians create spaces for students to connect outside of class: clubs for tinkering, crafting, games like chess, and of course, reading.
At Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, the teacher librarian hosts a makerspace on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at lunch for students to come in and make things. Some of the most popular activities include making jewelry and designing stickers. In addition to the lunchtime makerspace, teachers schedule times to bring their students into the makerspace using the engineering design process.
The teacher librarian at Presidio Middle School is putting together a Vintage Tech Mini-Museum so that students will have an opportunity to explore the pre-digital technology that parents and members of the community have been donating to the library. Presidio also hosts a number of book clubs, including a Black Lit Book Club. Since 2018, the teacher librarian has spearheaded the R.O.A.R. (Reach Out And Read) program, where the school community reads silently for 20 minutes after lunch. At R.O.A.R Days in the fall and spring, parent volunteers help give out hundreds of books and swag to students.
Literacy is not only important when it comes to school libraries; it’s also a priority in our classrooms. Last fall, the SF Board of Education adopted a set of goals to guide the district’s priorities over the next five years. One of the district’s long-term goals is to increase literacy among third-grade students, and last month I joined the Board at a workshop to discuss our progress.
Our SFUSD librarians work closely with the amazing SF Public Library professionals. All SFUSD students automatically receive a “scholar card” from the SF Public Library, and can ask their school librarian for help with reserving a book.
Please join me in celebrating the rich contributions of teacher librarians to our school communities!
This page was last updated on April 4, 2023