School Libraries

Trouble for RIF

Changes in the way the federal government plans to allocate money to increase and improve literacy pose a severe threat to one of the country’s best-known nonprofit groups, Reading Is Fundamental.

Known commonly as RIF, the organization, which provides free books to needy children and has been promoted in memorable public service announcements by celebrities like Carol Burnett and Shaquille O’Neal, stands to lose all of its federal financing, which accounts for roughly 75 percent of its annual revenues.

“We are looking at having to completely reinvent ourselves,” said Carol Rasco, chief executive of RIF, which has received an annual grant from the Department of Education for 34 years.

Story from the New York Times.

A Librarian for the e-Generation

A soft, but audible “hum” of student voices can be heard the moment you walk into the colorful, well-stocked library — and no shushing. Monache High School (CA) Media Center/Librarian Melissa Giannetto likes it that way.

“Today’s kids are used to iPods, cell phones and all kinds of electronic devices, most are not used to absolute quiet,” Giannetto said. “I don’t think that’s necessary as long as they are working together. And you can see that they are.”

Giannatto has been the librarian for three years, after spending 12 years in high school classrooms teaching English.

She is in her element in the library. “This is my dream job and I didn’t know it growing up,” she said, flashing her easy smile. “I love what I do.”
What she does is more than what she says may be the down side of her job, if there is a down side. The misconception that librarians sit at their computers all day doing research is one of those myths that needs to be dispelled, she said.

Included in her duties, and those of Porterville CA and Granite Hills high school librarians Lori Lienau and Catherine Mays, respectively, are managing the library/media center computer lab, helping teachers with their class schedules as they pertain to visiting her academic domain, teaching classes and scheduling college recruitment presentations, to name just a few things. Recorder Online.

SaveLibraries.org, Two Weeks Old and Going Strong

Want to keep up on what's happening with efforts around the country to help save libraries? There's a great new site for that, appropriately named Save Libraries. Their motto is "When one library is in trouble, ALL libraries are in trouble." This project is being run by Lori Reed and Heather Braum. They can’t do this alone and are looking for additional help creating and maintaining the content on this site.

Save Libraries is a grassroots effort to compile information about libraries in need of our support. Save Libraries will aggregate information about current advocacy efforts, archive advocacy efforts, and provide links to resources for libraries facing cuts. The project began barely two weeks ago, and is already attracting attention.

Please email us at savelibs (at) gmail (dot) com for questions, comments, or concerns. Please tag your Web content with savelibraries to make it easier for us to find and collect it.

Kudos to none other than our own Blake Carver and LISHost.org for donating hosting for this site and getting WordPress up and running within minutes. This site is dedicated to advocacy for libraries–getting the message out about why libraries are important.

We’re looking for advocacy information, testimonials from patrons and staff, photos, videos, anything to help save our libraries. Please pitch in!! Use the tag savelibraries or #savelibraries on Twitter. If you would like to contribute to this site please email savelibs@gmail.com.

Are You Ready for National Library Week?

It's next week! This theme for this annual event is "Communities Thrive". Here's what we've found for events around the country:

  • Clark NJ Public Library
  • Boyd County KY Public Library
  • Mesquite TX Public Library
  • Woodland CA Public Library
  • Marathon Cty WI Public Library
  • Palm Beach FL County Library
  • Terrebonne Parish LA Public Library

    What's happening @ your library?

  • Three Out of Eight Becomes Four Out of Eight Positions Cut for Ithaca School Librarians

    Members of the Ithaca City School District Board of Education seemed reluctant Tuesday to reduce the district's elementary school librarian positions by half as proposed in the 2010-11 budget.

    Originally, three of eight full-time librarian positions were proposed to be cut, but Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Connie Evelyn said she could not ensure equity among the eight elementary schools if there were five librarians, so a fourth position was proposed to be cut.

    Librarians perform literacy instruction besides managing school libraries, Superintendent Judith Pastel said.

    However, several board members said they could not get behind the cuts, which they feared could cause setbacks in district literacy efforts. A vote could not be taken at the meeting, which was posted as a budget workshop and not a voting meeting.

    Why School Librarians Shouldn't Get The Pink Slip

    From School Library Journal: Q & A by recently laid-off librarian Sara Scribner, a (former) school librarian for the Pasadena Unified School District.

    Scribner had recently penned a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, "Saving the Google Students" which went viral and talked about how critical media specialists are in this digital age. We asked Scribner how her students—and society—would fare if librarians didn't exist.

    When will you know if your position is terminated?
    Right now, Pasadena has a parcel tax measure that is going up for a vote throughout the month of April and early May. It has to pass by a large margin, something like two-thirds of the people voting need to say yes to it. On May 5, we should know if it has passed or not. The word is that the librarians will go if it doesn't pass and that they will be saved if it does pass. That's the district speaking. What will happen in the end is anyone's guess. We might not know for sure until we leave for summer break, or even later.

    What would the fate be of school libraries in Pasadena without librarians?
    No one is willing to discuss what will happen if all of the district librarians are laid off. Since our school will be going through a major renovation next year, I'm going to guess that the library will be "mothballed." Lights out. No librarian. No books. No media lab.

    Protecting School Libraries

    Years of evidence-based research demonstrates the positive impact of school libraries on student achievement in the United States, yet school libraries and media specialists continue to be a target of cuts and closures. A 2006 study also demonstrated the contribution of school libraries to student success in Delaware.
    You can read the Delaware report and more at the Delaware Division of Libraries blog

    South African Schools Lacking In Libraries and Money

    The majority of schools do not have libraries and it will cost a staggering R2,2-billion to build one in each school, to stock it with books and to pay the salaries of librarians for 10 years, says the civil society group Equal Education (EE).

    "It is shocking. It really goes to the heart of the South African education crisis," said the EE's Doron Isaacs.

    The lack of libraries significantly contributed to the poor grasp of literacy and numeracy among millions of South African pupils, he said.

    "Many Grade 1s will arrive at school and for the entire year they will only get to read about three or four books, whereas children in (former) model C schools will have two to three library books in their bags every day from Grade one," he added.

    LA Unified School District to Eliminate All Certified Librarians

    All certified school librarians in the Los Angeles Unified School District will lose their positions next school year if efforts to close the district’s $640 million budget shortfall fail.

    Full story at School Library Journal

    Embezzlement or Cash Advances? NY Librarian Due in Court

    Record Online reports: (Upstate NY) TUXEDO - Town police said a former librarian in the Tuxedo School District embezzled more than $12,000 from the district’s teachers union while serving as its president and treasurer. Police said Teresa E. Haslam, 45, of Chester, issued herself 20 checks and one electronic transfer from the union’s account between November 2008 and May 2009, when she left the district. According to the union, all but $645.98 has been repaid.

    Haslam, who’s charged with grand larceny, a felony, turned herself in Wednesday. She was issued an appearance ticket and is due back in Town Court on March 18.

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