School Libraries

Do School Children Really Need Librarians?

Yes and no, according to your perspective.

City Limits, a NYC blog reports that earlier this summer, the Department of Education requested a variance from the state, asking official permission to offer fewer librarians in schools. While the DOE says it recognizes librarians' value, in the face of fiscal challenges and technological changes the department is looking for alternative ways to provide students with library services. In place of hiring certified librarians, schools could train teachers to offer the same services, bring in parent volunteers or have librarians circulate between schools.

Meanwhile, elementary schools are exempt from the regulation altogether. Some elementary school libraries are staffed by teachers or librarians without certification. Some even go without.

And from the librarians' POV: "The idea that a shelf full of a books somehow replaces a librarian is wrong," says Christian Zabriskie, Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite, a professional group that supports librarianship in urban settings. "If I'm exploring things about, say, my sexuality, drug issues, health issues, I can't grab those books in front of my peers," he adds. Zabriskie's own middle school librarian had a significant impact on his life by supporting him when he was being bullied and teaching him how to stand up for others.

School Librarians Belong in NYC Schools

The New York City Department of Education, one of the largest educational organizations in the world, has effectively given up on librarians. As DOE officials call for a variance to state law which requires the presence of a school librarian in every middle and high school in the state they have passing up on a key, high performing, cost effective, tool for student success.

There is a strange dissonance when it comes to libraries. We are both armored by our stereotypes and defeated by them simultaneously. People are ready to hurl themselves on the barricade of our intellectual freedom but when budgets come we are universally tisked and shuttled off into the budget memory hole, quickly snipped away. The idiom of the dusty shelves comes up in the press every time in order to evoke mood.

Full piece

Wall to separate west Windsor library from school due to security risks

A wall will be built to permanently divide Windsor’s west end library due to the security concerns of its neighbouring elementary school.

The Windsor Public Library board accepted the public school board’s decision on Tuesday.

“This is not the ideal solution, but we understand that safety is a primary concern for parents and the school board,” said Chris Woodrow, the library’s acting CEO.

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/07/23/wall-to-separate-west-windsor-library-from-school-du...

How Scholastic Sells Literacy To Generations Of New Readers

Chances are you have had contact with Scholastic Publishing at some point in your life: You might have read their magazines in school, or bought a book at one of their book fairs, or perhaps you've read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? From its humble beginning as publisher of a magazine for high schoolers, Scholastic has become a $2 billion business and one of the biggest children's book publishers in the world.

Full piece on NPR

High School Library Trashed

With the majority of a high school library’s irreplaceable book collection documenting African-American history lost, the ire of the community grows.

Highland Park residents will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the city’s Nandi’s Knowledge Café on Woodward Avenue to discuss the loss and what, if anything, can be done.

“Our history was stolen, it was trashed,” said Linda Wheeler, a former special education teacher for the Highland Park School District said of the tossed books. “It rivaled the collections of many community colleges. You can’t put a value on that. It is malicious destruction, it’s a crime.”

Earlier this month thousands of books from the library of Highland Park Renaissance Academy were thrown in the trash. Wheeler said the collection consisted of 10,000 books.

Wheeler’s father and longtime resident Earl Wheeler said a parent volunteer in the district told him the library’s books were thrown out.

“There were at least four (trash bins) and two were left before we discovered what was happening,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler called historian Paul Lee, who rallied a group of volunteers. The group went at night with flashlights, climbed into two bins and retrieved 1,000 books.

Wheeler said he was told the library was being rehabilitated by the Leona Group, a charter management company that operates schools in Highland Park.

From The Detroit News.

ABC Harder Than 123

From the New York Times:

David Javsicas, a popular seventh-grade reading teacher known for urging students to act out dialogue in the books they read in class, sometimes feels wistful for the days when he taught math.

A quiz, he recalls, could quickly determine which concepts students had not yet learned. Then, “you teach the kids how to do it, and within a week or two you can usually fix it,” he said.

Helping students to puzzle through different narrative perspectives or subtext or character motivation, though, can be much more challenging. “It could take months to see if what I’m teaching is effective,” he said.

Educators, policy makers and business leaders often fret about the state of math education, particularly in comparison with other countries. But reading comprehension may be a larger stumbling block.

Ogden SD cutting 20 librarian positions

Twenty librarians in the Ogden School District could be out of a job.
The twenty Library Media Specialists were called to a mandatory meeting on Friday morning where they were told that their contracts won’t be renewed and their positions will no longer exist starting July 1.

According to the superintendent, Ogden School District entered the 2012-2013 school year with a $2.7 million deficit. He said they’ve avoided cutbacks in past years, but they finally have to do it this year.

Full story

Boy Killed at Boston Marathon Was Son of Injured School Librarian

In 2012, Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Dorchester boy who was killed in the marathon explosions, marched at Boston’s City Hall to call for peace.

Richard’s second-grade class was there to “express themselves in a positive manner and become more engaged in the politics of the city,” according to a Boston.com story about the march.

The school says it is grieving for Martin and his family. It released his statement and identified Martin’s mother, another victim of the bombing, as a school librarian:

The Neighborhood House Charter School is mourning today the loss of our beloved student Martin Richard, during the tragic events at the Boston Marathon yesterday. He was a bright, energetic young boy who had big dreams and high hopes for his future. We are heartbroken by this loss.

We are also praying for his mother, Denise, our school librarian and sister Jane, another Neighborhood House Charter student, who were seriously injured yesterday. Our thoughts are with his father, Bill Richard, and older brother, Henry. They are a wonderful family and represent the very best this city has to offer.

Internet-Deprived Kids Turning To 'McLibraries'

Slashdot's great headline "Internet-Deprived Kids Turning To 'McLibraries' 315" for This WSJ Article on the digital divide was great.... "In many communities, after the library and the computer lab close for the night, there is often only one place to turn for students without internet access at home: the local McDonald's."

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