Note: A slightly longer version of the report from today’s NPR Morning Edition (posted below) was broadcast (and published online) by Chicago Public Media/WBEZ on July 23, 2014.
From the NPR:
Two years ago, the Chicago Public Schools budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year, the budget called for 313 librarians, and now that number is down to 254.
With educators facing tough financial choices, having a full-time librarian is becoming something of a luxury in Chicago’s more than 600 public schools.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of librarians in Chicago, and it’s not mass layoffs — it’s that the librarians are being reassigned.
Chicago school officials wouldn’t go on tape for this story. In a fact sheet sent to WBEZ, they touted the district’s expanded virtual libraries available to all students. A spokesperson wrote, “we will not be satisfied until we have central and/or classroom-based libraries in every school.”
At a school board meeting this summer, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett addressed the issue and says the real problem is with hiring.
“It’s not that we don’t want to have librarians in libraries. Nobody can argue that point, but the pool is diminished,” she says.
Librarian Megan Cusick says if the hiring pool is empty, that’s because so many librarians are being reassigned.