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SALT LAKE CITY - The majority of Utah schools have eliminated professional librarians, at a time when students need more help than ever learning research skills.
If you thought the main role of librarians was story time and the Dewey Decimal System, here's an update. Kids no longer struggle to find information in books; they navigate the wave of sometimes dubious information on the internet. "You kinda have to think what would be right," said 12-year-old student Shane Weed. "And you can also look in books to see which one is right." Shane's library technology teacher taught them how to evaluate websites and do more than just Google.
"We would've gotten a bunch of junk and not true facts," said student Sage Allen. In Utah, fewer than 12 percent of elementary students get this important training, because a growing number of districts have eliminated the position and staffed school libraries with aides.
"It really takes some expertise to kind of weed through the information and try to find what's best for kids to use that's safe, has valuable information," said library technology teacher Lori Kimolos. Librarians also coordinate with teachers, so that the lessons cover curriculum and make students better learners. Advocates for school libraries hope the legislature will consider their needs in the education budget.