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L.A. Unified paid for library staff in every school before the recession began in 2008. Today, it provides librarians in high schools but leaves most elementary and middle school campuses to make tough choices on whether to use their limited discretionary funds on library aides, nurses, counselors or other key staff.
Since 2011, the union has alleged that L.A. Unified laid off their members, then illegally allowed parent volunteers, instructional aides and others to do their work at nearly four dozen campuses. The district issued a bulletin last year clarifying that library work can be performed only by those with proper credentials, but the union asserts that violations are still occurring. Without trained staff to make sure books are properly checked out, returned and refiled, she said, thousands have gone missing.
Aiming to stem the problems, the Los Angeles Board of Education recently agreed to form a districtwide task force to seek ways to improve access to school libraries with more dollars, alternative arrangements and collaboration with other public libraries and charitable organizations.