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Faced with budget cuts and layoffs, school librarians in LA are being interrogated by lawyers about their relevancy in schools. The LA Times reports:
"I've seen a lot of strange things in two decades as a reporter, but nothing quite as disgraceful and weird as this inquisition the LAUSD is inflicting upon more than 80 school librarians....To get the librarians off the payroll, the district's attorneys need to prove to an administrative law judge that the librarians don't have that recent teaching experience."
A teacher/librarian in LA has outlined her observations and opinions in an unsettling blog post, which gives a first-hand look at these interrogations.
The disgraceful interrogation of L.A. school librarians
A court reporter takes down testimony. A judge grants or denies objections from attorneys. Armed police officers hover nearby. On the witness stand, one librarian at a time is summoned to explain why she — the vast majority are women — should be allowed to keep her job.
The librarians are guilty of nothing except earning salaries the district feels the need to cut. But as they're cross-examined by determined LAUSD attorneys, they're continually put on the defensive.
"When was the last time you taught a course for which your librarian credential was not required?" an LAUSD attorney asked Laura Graff, the librarian at Sun Valley High School, at a court session on Monday.
Despite the funding challenges nearly all school libraries face, many media specialists are optimistic about the role of technology in the school library, according to SLJ’s 2011 Technology Survey. Maribel Castro, a high school librarian, in Lubbock, TX, spoke for many school librarians when she wrote that even though her library is behind the tech curve, she still feels that “we are at the cusp of great things.”
But in spite of the general optimism, others point to some significant obstacles: technological innovations are often hampered by poor funding, lack of time, and unsupportive administrators. “I feel like I am blocked by my district at nearly every turn,” says an Oklahoma elementary school librarian.
Full article at School Library Journal
How do children become proficient readers? It's not a mystery. Decades of education research has demonstrated that children become good readers by discovering the joy of reading at an early age.
Stephen Krashen, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Southern California, is one of our foremost authorities on this critical subject. He concludes in his book, The Power of Reading that it is only through what he calls "free voluntary reading" that children become good readers. Reading instruction, according to Krashen, just doesn't work. Turning kids on to reading by matching their interests to the right books is the only thing that works.
27 members of Librarians Without Borders (LWB) are currently on the ground on a service learning trip to Guatemala, from April 22 - May 3, 2011. This is part of a partnership with the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, a non-profit private school founded in 1994 to eliminate education disparities through subsidized tuition and create informed, critically-thinking, socially conscious citizens through its curriculum.
The partnership between LWB and Asturias is focused on promoting literacy and libraries in Guatemala, and development and operation of the Asturias Community Library. As part of this trip, the group will learn about Guatemalan culture and education, participate in community organizing and change making workshops, and complete a week of work at the Asturias Academy and Community Library. -- Read More
Not again. President Obama delivered the same message to media specialists as he did last year. In his FY2012 budget to Congress on Monday, he proposed eliminating Improving Literacy Through School Libraries, a decade-old federal program designed to boost academic achievement by providing students with access to up-to-date school library materials.
And he didn't stop there.
For the first time since taking office, the president is cutting monies to public libraries, asking to slash funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) by about 10 percent—or $20.3million—to $193.2 million from its current $213.5 million. That would mean only $161.3 million in grants would be available next year for our nation's 123,000 public libraries, down from $172.5 million in FY2010.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, [librarians are] "normally a quiet bunch" but about 250 from all corners of the state made some noise Wednesday at the Texas Capitol as they tried to head off looming budget cuts that would virtually eliminate state support for public libraries.
"If these programs are not funded, then it will affect every community, every school and every institution of higher education in the state," said Gloria Meraz, communications director for the Texas Library Association.
The cutbacks could mean reduced access to TexShare, a mammoth database service available in 677 libraries, and to a K-12 database provided for 4.5 million Texas schoolchildren and 500,000 educators.
"If the Fort Worth Public Library had to negotiate for the TexShare database on their own, it would cost $2 million a year," said Peggy Rudd, director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Also targeted for elimination is funding for TexNet Interlibrary Loan programs and Loan Star Library Grants, which provides money to extend hours and other services.
About 485 campus positions could be cut because of a change in staffing formulas unanimously adopted by the Austin school board Monday.
The new formulas, which were proposed by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen under the cloud of several extremely bleak state budget forecasts, would cut 220 elementary and 229 secondary school positions plus another 35 parent support specialists from the district's staffing formulas. The move saves the district $26.5 million, officials said.
The changes would require the board to approve declaring a financial emergency to terminate contracts at a later date. Several board members have said such approval is likely.
At the last minute, trustees changed Carstarphen's proposal to save 52 elementary school librarian jobs. Another 22 librarian positions at the secondary school level, however, were eliminated from the formula, at least for now.
A digital twist on a dying craft has earned a couple of local librarians place in the national spotlight.
Cynthia Dobrez, librarian at West Ottawa Public Schools’ Harbor Lights and Macatawa Bay middle schools, and her colleague Lynn Rutan have run a blog, Bookends, about youth literature for just more than two years. It can be found on the website booklistonline.com.
Both are accomplished librarians. Rutan, also a former West Ottawa librarian, sits on the committee that hands out the envied Newbery Award to new children’s books, and Dobrez has chaired the American Library Association’s Printz Award committee.