From School Library Journal.
Many viewers took note that about halfway through the star-studded May 25 finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show at Chicago's United Center, children's libraries got the spotlight. Standing in the newly renovated library at New Orleans' KIPP Believe College Prep, which lost all of its books during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Grammy-winning artist John Legend announced that the school library was the first of 25 that retail giant Target, in conjunction with the Heart of America Foundation, will renovate this year to honor 25 years of Oprah's show.
The effort is part of the four-year-old Target School Library Makeover program, which in 2011 will bring new furniture, carpet, shelves, eco-friendly design elements, technology upgrades, and 2,000 books to 42 school libraries nationwide. The renovations are expected to be completed by November. More from SLJ.
Today, I hugged my librarian. We were both in tears. As a Grade 9 student, even being at F.J. Brennan for a little bit, I've realized the importance of the librarian.
It's all part of a whole. Cut libraries and librarians at schools, and children will be less comfortable utilizing their local public libraries. Cut libraries and librarians in the public library system, and children and parents will be less likely to use and support their school and community libraries. And so on and so on....
Here's a letter to the editor from a public librarian in Ontario, Canada that sums up the issues:
Closing a school library is not just an issue for schools. Library programs at schools foster a love of reading, and develop information, research literacy and critical thinking skills. They allow kids to learn about their world, and to explore and develop their own interests. The lack of these skills among students will have a big impact on both the public and academic library, as well as on society.
A major Canadian study from People for Education and Queen’s University has found that having a school library improves test scores, and schools with teacher librarians have more positive attitudes toward reading; while schools with no professional librarian have lower reading scores. As school libraries and librarians become fewer, the impact on public libraries and society as a whole will grow.
We will be raising a generation of children who don’t read, leading to a generation of adults who won’t read, and who won’t know how to find information or critically evaluate the information that they do find.
The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to lay off thousands of employees, as it faces a budget shortfall of more than $640 million. The cuts include 85 school librarians — who have been told that they no longer count as teachers. The change in classification would make it easier for the school district to cut the jobs.
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.
Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.
“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.” -- Read More
A Paradise Valley, AZ mother is upset that her daughter was subjected to Lovingly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
"If you looked on the cover, it's just a very young cute girl on the cover," Lockhart said. "My (incoming) second-grader can pick this book up and think, 'This is a cute book.' There needs to be some sort of warning label."
Officials with the Paradise Valley Unified School District have pulled the book from their shelves.
Faced with budget cuts and layoffs, school librarians in LA are being interrogated by lawyers about their relevancy in schools. The LA Times reports:
"I've seen a lot of strange things in two decades as a reporter, but nothing quite as disgraceful and weird as this inquisition the LAUSD is inflicting upon more than 80 school librarians....To get the librarians off the payroll, the district's attorneys need to prove to an administrative law judge that the librarians don't have that recent teaching experience."
A teacher/librarian in LA has outlined her observations and opinions in an unsettling blog post, which gives a first-hand look at these interrogations.
The disgraceful interrogation of L.A. school librarians
A court reporter takes down testimony. A judge grants or denies objections from attorneys. Armed police officers hover nearby. On the witness stand, one librarian at a time is summoned to explain why she — the vast majority are women — should be allowed to keep her job.
The librarians are guilty of nothing except earning salaries the district feels the need to cut. But as they're cross-examined by determined LAUSD attorneys, they're continually put on the defensive.
"When was the last time you taught a course for which your librarian credential was not required?" an LAUSD attorney asked Laura Graff, the librarian at Sun Valley High School, at a court session on Monday.
Despite the funding challenges nearly all school libraries face, many media specialists are optimistic about the role of technology in the school library, according to SLJ’s 2011 Technology Survey. Maribel Castro, a high school librarian, in Lubbock, TX, spoke for many school librarians when she wrote that even though her library is behind the tech curve, she still feels that “we are at the cusp of great things.”
But in spite of the general optimism, others point to some significant obstacles: technological innovations are often hampered by poor funding, lack of time, and unsupportive administrators. “I feel like I am blocked by my district at nearly every turn,” says an Oklahoma elementary school librarian.
Full article at School Library Journal
How do children become proficient readers? It's not a mystery. Decades of education research has demonstrated that children become good readers by discovering the joy of reading at an early age.
Stephen Krashen, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Southern California, is one of our foremost authorities on this critical subject. He concludes in his book, The Power of Reading that it is only through what he calls "free voluntary reading" that children become good readers. Reading instruction, according to Krashen, just doesn't work. Turning kids on to reading by matching their interests to the right books is the only thing that works.