Archive for the ‘School libraries’ Category

Recent media reports from Ontario and California reflect a trend that, while not new, seems to be picking up steam; namely the elimination of school librarians.  In the last week The Globe and Mail ran an opinion piece and an article that describe cuts to school library staff by districts in Windsor and Peterborough, near Toronto.

Meanwhile education cuts in California have lead to protests in Los Angeles and the overnight arrest of the California Teachers Association president in Sacramento after he refused to leave a legislator’s office.  The L.A. Times published a description of what was seen as a disgraceful interrogation of school librarians by attorneys for the Los Angeles Unified School District.  The attorneys were determining if the librarians are qualified for transfer to classroom jobs.

Dr. Ken Haycock, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia has spent years following trends in school libraries.  He says he’s sympathetic to the plight of school trustees when government funding is being reduced and the cost of their contracts is increasing. He says it leaves little around the edges for programs that may be essential and necessary but yet are not “contractual”.  This includes not just libraries but other important components too, like all aspects of the arts.  But he is not sympathetic with decisions made on old stereotypes rather than evidence.  “There is too little money to ignore those areas that have a positive impact on student achievement, such as teacher-librarians”, says Haycock.  He and others don’t understand the disconnect in the minds of school board officials who say that teaching must focus on 21st century literacy yet don’t see school libraries as important.  “Of course there are newer literacies and of course libraries and librarians support them, and even lead their teaching and learning, but let’s be concerned about all media and technologies and what is best for kids, before we cut based on outdated nonsense”, says Haycock.

The debate and the battle will no doubt continue.  One popular Canadian broadcaster and writer, Jian Ghomeshi, gave some articulate support for school librarians on his radio program called Q, last week.  Here’s a link to his remarks on May 18th asking who will speak for the librarian?

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