By Catherine Gewertz
—Kendrick Brinson for Education Week
It's the second week of the school year, and middle school librarian Kristen Hearne is pulling outdated nonfiction books from the shelves. She is showing one teacher how to track down primary-source documents from the Vietnam War and helping a group of other teachers design a project that uses folk tales to draw students into cross-cultural comparisons.
With the common standards on her doorstep, Ms. Hearne has a lot to do. Her library at Wren Middle School in Piedmont, S.C., is a nerve center in her school's work to arm both teachers and students for a focus on new kinds of study. She's working to build not only students' skills in writing, reading, research, and analysis, but also teachers' skills in teaching them. She and other librarians say they view the common core, with its emphasis on explanation, complex text, and cross-disciplinary synthesis, as an unprecedented opportunity for them to really strut their stuff.
"When it comes to the common core, librarians can be a school's secret weapon," said Ms. Hearne, who blogs as "The Librarian in the Middle."