National School Librarian Day is being celebrated on April 4 to recognize the highly trained media specialists who promote information literacy, empower students to develop critical thinking and foster a love of lifelong learning.
During the first 18 weeks of the 2022-2023 school year, libraries across Dallas ISD had more than 380,000 books checked out, 96,000 e-books downloaded and 5.4 million database sessions—with 1.9 million total library books in the district collection.
Marvin Gonzalez, the media specialist at Downtown Montessori at Ida B. Wells Academy, said he has witnessed the power of school libraries time and time again during his 15 years as a school librarian and 23 total years as an educator in Dallas ISD.
“Students come to the library as a safe haven,” Gonzalez said. “They feel relaxed and can talk about their lives. That is my passion, being able to help human beings. That’s why I’m here, to not only help students but also the community, the parents, the school and the district.”
Gonzalez wears many hats as a media specialist, from incorporating STEM into the library on a daily basis to organizing books fairs, teaching classes on coding and video game design and providing reading incentives. But he said one of his absolute favorite accomplishments has been helping found Downtown Montessori’s fathers’ club.
He noticed that many students did not get to interact with their fathers often at home due to long working hours, so he organized an event to bring families together to provide additional support and tutoring to students. At the club’s first meeting in August, 71 families attended, surpassing Gonzalez’s expectations.
Now, they meet every month and even have events outside of school to get to know each other and strengthen their community.
“The positive effects of the club have been amazing,” Gonzalez said. “We have sports teams that dads are running, and we have a lot of parents who bring in donations and whatever we need, which we didn’t have before. That’s something that I love about being a school librarian because I am like a bridge between the school and the community.”
Dallas ISD’s media specialists continuously deliver high-quality instruction, collaborate with teachers, serve on school leadership committees and facilitate the use of technology by teachers and students alike, and Gonzalez said he is proud to be among them.
“I am here to foster the love of reading,” Gonzalez said. “When you have that, lives change. It’s wonderful because reading gives you access to another world, another dimension. It has been very emotional for me to see students many years later who remember me. They come back and say, ‘Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.’”