December 3, 2020

Pennsylvania: Budget Cuts Take Toll On School Librarians In Philadelphia

From the AP (via NJ Herald):

The children who attend Spring Garden Elementary often come home to no books, let alone e-readers or Internet access. Some live in a nearby homeless shelter.

So when Laureal Robinson became Spring Garden’s principal five years ago, she had a goal in mind: to reopen the school library with a certified librarian.

“We had to adopt a back-to-basics approach,” Robinson said. “We had to make it as easy as possible for children to get books in their hands.”

Spring Garden’s budget is just as tight as every other school’s in the Philadelphia School District – it has no full-time counselor or nurse – but Robinson made reopening a library a priority. For five years she planned, using community partnerships to bring in books. In September, she hired a three-day-a-week librarian.

“Having a librarian,” the principal said, “just helps to support what’s going on in the classroom, with teachers. I just felt like it was a necessity. It would be remiss not to have a library.”

Robinson is bucking a trend. In 1991, there were 176 certified librarians in city schools. Now there are 11 – for 218 schools.

Read the Complete Article

Note: This article was first published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 2, 2015 with the headline, “School Cuts Have Decimated Librarians.”

See Also: Philadelphia: City Schools and Free Library Merge Databases and Give Nearly 100,00 Students Library Cards (April 15, 2014)
The article also reports on the Free Library of Philadelphia has assisted eight schools set up their own libraries.

Quick Comment from infoDOCKET Founder/Editor Gary Price
This public library/public school program noted above is a wonderful partnership, great idea (that we would love to see elsewhere), and a superb program but we hope it’s not being looked at by those who make staffing and budget decisions as a solution and a reason to get rid of more school librarians. School libraries and librarians are as vital now as they’ve ever been. In fact, IMHO, they are more vital now than ever before. Critical info skills, digital literacy, privacy, and many other issues MUST BE taught to not only the students but also, in some cases, the educators and administrators. Technology changes quickly (an understatement) and librarians can play an essential role in keeping students, staff, administrators, and parents informed.

See Also: Philadelphia: “Budget Crisis Shutters Libraries at 2 Top Schools” (October 14, 2013)

See Also: Study Finds PA’s School Librarians Spread Thin (August 23, 2012)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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