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Libraries fading as school budget crisis deepens
Students who wished their school librarians a nice summer on the last day of school may be surprised this fall when they're no longer around to recommend a good book or help with homework. No one will know exactly how many jobs are lost until fall, but the American Association of School Administrators projects 19 percent of the nation's school districts will have fewer librarians next year, based on a survey this spring. Ten percent said they cut library staff for the 2009-2010 school year.
Last month, Google launched an encrypted version of its Web search, allowing users to enable a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection to encrypt their information. Like several other Google products that feature SSL encryption, including email and Docs, Google touted this move as a step towards enhancing users' privacy and security.
But as the encrypted searches mean that data cannot be logged, filtered, or blocked, Google's new secure search runs afoul of CIPA, the Children's Internet Protection Act. And with the service's beta release, many schools are now facing some difficult decisions in how to respond.
CIPA requires schools to monitor, and in some cases block, certain websites. And while filtering is not necessarily a popular tactic (the American Library Association and the ACLU have sought to overturn the law), schools and libraries receiving federal E-rate funding must comply.
Rose Zertuche-Treviño, a librarian who devoted her career to helping improve the lives of children, died on April 30 in Houston, TX. She was 58 reports SLJ.
Treviño spent her last seven years as the youth services coordinator for the Houston Public Library, a system that serves one of the biggest Spanish-speaking populations in the country. She retired in October 2009 and moved back to San Antonio, where she was born and raised.
“How fitting that Rose died on April 30th, El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/ Book Day),” says her friend and colleague Oralia Garza de Cortes, a Latino children's literature consultant. “She loved her work and devoted her life to making sure all children had access to great literature and particularly to programs where children could enjoy and connect to the literature.”
The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Treviño grew up poor. Her father worked in a cotton field as a child and went on to hold two jobs to support his family, while his wife worked four jobs. Treviño’s first language was Spanish and only learned to speak English when she entered kindergarten. It was also that year that her mother first took her to a public library—and the five-year-old decided on her career path. “Not everyone figures out what they want to be at such a young age,” says her son Steven Treviño, 33. “And she got to do more than she thought she would ever do.”
It's becoming ever more critical day by day; today marks the beginning of Choose Privacy Week (School Library Journal).
“The point of Choose Privacy is to spark a nationwide dialogue of what privacy means to us, and what the privacy laws are today in the digital space,” says Angela Maycock, assistant director for ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
For children, protecting those rights is even more critical as young students often aren’t sophisticated enough to grasp what is appropriate behavior on the Web. School librarians can play a crucial role in helping to steer children towards tools they can use to protect themselves, say experts.
“Certainly we know young people are intuitively and naturally interested in social networking and other tools online,” says Maycock. “And so school librarians play a really important and critical part in this effort as they’re a starting gate in learning how to access information, and do it responsibly and safely.”
Yet how school librarians approach these lessons can vary, especially depending on a student’s age. A kindergartener may have a different understanding of cookies than a junior in high school and so teaching tools often need to start with very rudimentary examples and behavior models.
More than 90 per cent of teacher-librarians in Australia are believed to be over 40, compared to half of teachers generally. Many teacher-librarians also retire early because of a lack of promotional opportunities reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
Meanwhile, there are just four tertiary courses nationally to train them, from a peak of 15, and only about 100 graduates a year.
Library associations say job security is poor, discouraging potential students. In Victoria, rationalisation during the Kennett era and dwindling budgets has meant many principals have chosen to hire extra classroom teachers instead of librarians to reduce class sizes.
''The view is that libraries are not important because students just access information online,'' Mrs Ellingworth told The Sunday Age. ''But the thing is, students have got information overload. They don't know where to start.''
Ms Ellingworth conducts sessions for students on finding, assessing and publishing information safely on the internet. But she would like to offer the students more.
''We used to have specific library programs … but now we work with teachers and classes..''
WALNUT CREEK — Librarians from Walnut Creek, Concord, Castro Valley and San Jose joined members of the California PTA today at Foothill Middle School to denounce education cuts that are shutting school libraries.
Because of cuts in the Mt. Diablo district, most middle schools libraries are open two days a week and closed three days. But Foothill parents raised about $17,000 to keep their librarian on-site for a third day and to pay for a library aide who staffs the facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the other two days.
California ranks 51st in the nation in its ratio of librarians to students, with one school librarian per 5,124 students compared to the national average of one to 916 students, according to a 2006-07 report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Read more at education writer Theresa Harrington's On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.
A conversation with kindergartners changed the course of Stephanie Gwinn's career three years ago. The Parkside Elementary School librarian in Grant Park was reading to students a book in which a character ate meat, a notion that struck the children as equally bizarre and horrifying.
One of our teachers received a grant to buy iPods to record her reading children’s books. She plans to share the recordings with her students so they can follow along with the stories. Although audio versions of the books can be purchased from iTunes, is this a fair use?
April is National School Librarians Month, and today is National Library Workers Day, bad timing for the American Association of School Administrators to report that 19 percent of school districts surveyed expect to cut librarians' jobs next year.
Rockwall High School librarian Nicole Redmond shows students in a family living class how to better explore resources on the Web in the library's computer lab.
Cuts couldn't come at a worse time, librarians and their advocates argue, because the close reading, critical thinking and research skills they teach are more important now than ever.
"The Internet and Google are wonderful tools, but it's all kind of a cut-and-paste mentality," said Gloria Meraz of the Texas Library Association in Austin. "There is such a fundamental need to continue to teach children to think critically."
Dallas News reports.
Via Times Live (South Africa): "On Human Rights Day, March 21, a Sunday, 10000 high school pupils marched through the centre of Cape Town in school uniform. They were children, predominantly of working-class origins, from all over the Western Cape, rural and urban, black and white. Not a rock or a bottle was thrown and they dispersed peacefully to the trains that had been arranged to take them home.
Sixteen years after democracy, our young people are calling for schools that work, for places where they may study and for materials that will help them read and learn. As the organisation Equal Education points out, fewer than 7% of schools in South Africa have a functioning library. Perhaps 21% have some kind of structure called a reading room, but these are usually used for classrooms, are seldom stocked properly and do not have a library professional in charge to ensure that the right books are there and that they are used properly. The lack of libraries compounds the many problems, such as teachers' poor subject knowledge and poor access to textbooks, that plague our schooling system. These factors combine to make our reading outcomes, at all grade levels, among the worst in Africa."