School Libraries: “As Book Bans Gain Favor, Some Say Libraries Could Go”
From a Stateline Report:
Amid the national uproar about whether to allow students access to a wide variety of books, the superintendent of a Virginia school district this week proposed a sweeping solution: Get rid of school libraries altogether.
Mark Taylor, who leads the district in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, suggested at a recent school board meeting that eliminating libraries would be a cost-reduction measure, saving $4.2 million in anticipation of $18 million in budget cuts.
But parents were out in force at the meeting, and many decried the idea of cutting libraries, saying they are essential and eliminating them would be a disservice to children. None of the parents or community members were officially allowed to speak at the public meeting, but some stood in the back of the room holding signs with slogans such as “We Deserve Better” and “Fund our Schools!”
Some school districts are closing school libraries, removing books or eliminating media specialist positions. In some states, many schools already lack school librarians: The New Jersey Herald reported as many as a fifth of all districts in the state did not have a certified school library media specialist on staff during the 2018-19 school year.
The California Department of Education reported that only about 9% of California schools have a credentialed teacher librarian, full or part-time. Most work in high schools.
In Michigan, 92% of schools don’t employ a full-time, certified librarian, according to the education news site Chalkbeat, and the number of school librarians in Michigan declined 73% between 2016 and 2020. Several studies, including one about Michigan, correlate higher reading scores on standardized tests with the availability of libraries and librarians.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.