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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.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) recently recognized author Lauren Myracle, school librarian Dee Ann Venuto, and 19-year-old college student Jordan Allen for fighting against censorship in schools.
NCAC's annual "Celebration of Free Speech and Its Defenders" ceremony in New York City brought together more than 150 authors, publishers, and First Amendment advocates to celebrate the work of the 36-year-old organization.
Venuto, a media specialist at the Rancocoas Valley High School in Mount Holly, NJ, was honored for her efforts to keep a list of gay-themed books on her library shelves. The titles Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology (Alyson, 2000) edited by Amy Sonnie.
Venuto followed her district's materials review policy, which outlines the steps that must be taken when library materials or other instructional material are questioned, when a local grassroots organization called the 9/12 Group challenged the books, drawing media attention.
Venuto says she's grateful to NCAC for spreading the word about the challenge and for the professional and personal support they gave her.
Durham students work to fill laid off library position
Library assistants may be gone, but Durham Elementary School students are making it work.
But for students at Durham Elementary School, it’s no big deal.
“We like it” said Sydney Ningenfelter, 11.
Since the beginning of the year, fourth- and fifth-graders have been working in the school’s library, volunteering their time in a position that used to be filled by a paid library assistant.
Librarian Cynthia Dobrez uses e-readers, bibliotherapy, and her own intuition in her middle school library in Michigan.
From the NYTimes: The shelves were stocked with books. The maple benches were grouped like shin-high honeycombs across the beeswax-colored floor. The Book Hive at P.S. 9 and M.S. 571’s joint facility on Underhill Avenue seemed to have everything. Everything, that is, except a librarian.
After years of planning, The Book Hive opened on Nov. 12, only to promptly shut its doors. The library, which services two Prospect Heights schools sharing the same building, will remain inactive until the schools hire a librarian, a daunting task in the age of slashed budgets and shared services.
“That’s what is so surprising about this whole thing,” said parent Karen Fein, 42. “I mean they were willing to get a half a million dollars to construct this library and outfit it beautifully, and now we don’t have a librarian.”
The Book Hive was constructed with $500,000 in city funding obtained through the offices of Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilwoman Letitia James. The staff went to work, converting a neglected temporary classroom back into a library.
Chicago's Lack Of School Libraries Sparks Dispute
Nearly one in four Chicago public elementary schools and more than fifty high schools don't have staffed, in-school libraries. Parents at one school were so incensed, they occupied a school building for more than a month to pressure city officials to add one. School officials say they value libraries, but in an era of tight budgets, they often lose out to other priorities.