Texas: Houston Independent School District (HISD) to Eliminate Librarians and Convert Libraries Into Disciplinary Centers at New Education System (NES) Schools
UPDATED POST (8/3/2023)
UPDATED POST (8/2/2023)
UPDATED POST (8/1/2023):
UPDATED POST (7/31/2023):
Students at dozens of Houston ISD schools will return in a few weeks without librarians and to former libraries that have been converted into disciplinary spaces.
New Superintendent Mike Miles announced earlier this summer that librarian and media specialist positions would be eliminated at the 28 original schools being overhauled under his reform program, New Education System (NES). Both the librarian and media specialist positions are similar, but librarians typically have an advanced degree in library science.
HISD said the 57 additional schools that opted into NES will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Deborah Hall spent about 40 years working for HISD. Now, she advocates for libraries and librarians as the co-founder of the Students Need Libraries organization. She recalls feeling stunned when hearing about the announcement.
“I just couldn’t imagine that it could happen so quickly. I don’t understand why this current administration doesn’t see the value of libraries and what they do for literacy and reading,” Hall said. “Libraries are much more than just books. It’s about helping match the reader to the right book at the right time. By talking to the student, you can find a direction to meet their needs.”
During the last school year, 88 percent of campuses had a certified librarian or teacher working in the library, up from 48 percent the prior school year, according to the advocacy group. Only 9 percent of campuses offered no library services last year, down from roughly a third in the 2021-2022 school year.
HISD expanded its digital resources and academic databases as well, according to the district, with ten times more eBooks checked out in March compared to the same time last year.
The district also pledged to help nearly 80 people earn their master’s degree in library science or school librarian certification over the summer, although one person in the cohort who wished to remain anonymous said HISD revoked the financial support in mid-May for unclear reasons, leaving only five people enrolled in the graduate program.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) 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.