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Are School Librarians Expendable?
School librarians are on the chopping block as states and cities seek to cut their education budgets.
In New York City, education officials say that after several years in a row of cutting costs, freezing wages and eliminating extracurricular activities, they may have no choice but to turn to librarians. And with technological advances, education policy makers are rethinking how they view library services in general.
Do superintendents and principals see librarians as more expendable than other school employees? If so, why?
“The dilemma that schools will face is whether to cut a teacher who has been working with kids all day long in a classroom or cut teachers who are working in a support capacity, like librarians,” the city’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said in an interview.
In New York, as in districts across the country, many school officials said they had little choice but to eliminate librarians, having already reduced administrative staff, frozen wages, shed extracurricular activities and trimmed spending on supplies. Technological advances are also changing some officials’ view of librarians: as more classrooms are equipped with laptops, tablets or e-readers, Mr. Polakow-Suransky noted, students can often do research from their desks that previously might have required a library visit.
From the Huffington Post, a look at several states and cities that are facing cuts of school librarians, and how each place is responding...most are responding LOUDLY.
Today's librarians do more than collect and distribute books. Many hold masters degrees, are able to provide resources to both students and teachers, and are often referred to as "media specialists" to reflect their work in assisting students with 21st century technology.
Unfortunately, the work they do is largely behind the scenes and, as Oregon Live reports, parents, education officials, and the public are often unaware of the impact they have on student success. "That's always been the bane of our profession," said Susan Stone, president-elect of the Oregon Association of School Libraries. "We've got to shout about what we do."
Library advocates in Texas did more than shout at a rally held to raise awareness in April. Hundreds of supporters of the Texas Library Association beat drums outside the state capital, demanding that funding for libraries to be restored.
The School Library Journal reports that Carol Heinsdorf, President of the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians (APSL), is actively campaigning to create awareness about librarian importance in Philadelphia.
More from Huff Post.
Over at Rescuing Reading, a new blog where a children's librarian attempts to bring some common sense and passion for literature back into the world of children's reading, the blogger continues her discussion of the dangers and pitfalls of enslavement to Lexile scores, with some commentary on the first 90 seconds or so of Metametrics' online promotional video about its Lexile scoring system. Among other trenchant observations:
When a child outgrows a shoe size, they can’t go back to wearing that size. They must move up. There is no other choice. It is not the same at all with reading. Kids can read at widely varying levels on any one day. Perhaps they read a comic book or magazine in the morning, their science textbook at school and an instruction manual for their new electronic toy in the afternoon and a favorite fiction author in the evening. These materials will all be written at different levels, and the decision to read each one is made for entirely different reasons.
From School Library Journal.
Many viewers took note that about halfway through the star-studded May 25 finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show at Chicago's United Center, children's libraries got the spotlight. Standing in the newly renovated library at New Orleans' KIPP Believe College Prep, which lost all of its books during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Grammy-winning artist John Legend announced that the school library was the first of 25 that retail giant Target, in conjunction with the Heart of America Foundation, will renovate this year to honor 25 years of Oprah's show.
The effort is part of the four-year-old Target School Library Makeover program, which in 2011 will bring new furniture, carpet, shelves, eco-friendly design elements, technology upgrades, and 2,000 books to 42 school libraries nationwide. The renovations are expected to be completed by November. More from SLJ.
Today, I hugged my librarian. We were both in tears. As a Grade 9 student, even being at F.J. Brennan for a little bit, I've realized the importance of the librarian.
It's all part of a whole. Cut libraries and librarians at schools, and children will be less comfortable utilizing their local public libraries. Cut libraries and librarians in the public library system, and children and parents will be less likely to use and support their school and community libraries. And so on and so on....
Here's a letter to the editor from a public librarian in Ontario, Canada that sums up the issues:
Closing a school library is not just an issue for schools. Library programs at schools foster a love of reading, and develop information, research literacy and critical thinking skills. They allow kids to learn about their world, and to explore and develop their own interests. The lack of these skills among students will have a big impact on both the public and academic library, as well as on society.
A major Canadian study from People for Education and Queen’s University has found that having a school library improves test scores, and schools with teacher librarians have more positive attitudes toward reading; while schools with no professional librarian have lower reading scores. As school libraries and librarians become fewer, the impact on public libraries and society as a whole will grow.
We will be raising a generation of children who don’t read, leading to a generation of adults who won’t read, and who won’t know how to find information or critically evaluate the information that they do find.
The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to lay off thousands of employees, as it faces a budget shortfall of more than $640 million. The cuts include 85 school librarians — who have been told that they no longer count as teachers. The change in classification would make it easier for the school district to cut the jobs.
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.
Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.
“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.” -- Read More
A Paradise Valley, AZ mother is upset that her daughter was subjected to Lovingly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
"If you looked on the cover, it's just a very young cute girl on the cover," Lockhart said. "My (incoming) second-grader can pick this book up and think, 'This is a cute book.' There needs to be some sort of warning label."
Officials with the Paradise Valley Unified School District have pulled the book from their shelves.