Unfortunately, we don’t think these stats will come as a big surprise to many. However, that doesn’t mean it this sad trend needs to continue. If there was ever a need for a clear and well executed marketing plan in the library community this is it. It’s sad that it needs to happen in the first place but it does and it needs to happen soon not only in California but MANY/MOST other places. It’s time not to only market the need for school libraries but also (and perhaps more importantly?) the need for the trained professionals who work in them. Why are they needed? What can they do? What skills do they have? Why is their training important? What new roles can they play? Where else can they be utilized outside the library?
Even if you’re not a school librarian, today’s K-12 students are tomorrows academic and special library users. They’ll also be the local and national government leaders who help decide the funding for public libraries in the not so distant future.
In our view, it all starts (or should start) with school libraries and school librarians.
Now, to the article.
Fewer than 1 out of 4 schools in California is staffed with a credentialed librarian, according to the state Department of Education.
Recent figures compiled by the department show there are about 900 school librarians in the state – that’s down from more than 1,100 two years ago.
From Los Angeles to San Mateo and Fullerton, school districts have cut librarian positions this year to cope with state budget cuts. Increasing numbers of schools are splitting one librarian between multiple campuses or relying on clerical aids or parent volunteers to keep the doors open.
Library advocates say students are the ones harmed when they don’t have trained librarians who can teach research techniques and turn them on to a love of reading. Others question whether technological advances and the ease of conducting research online have made librarians less essential.
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