School Librarians, a Disappearing Breed in Philadelphia
When Laureal Robinson became Spring Garden's principal five years ago, she had a goal in mind: to reopen the school library with a certified librarian.
"We had to adopt a back-to-basics approach," Robinson said. "We had to make it as easy as possible for children to get books in their hands."
Spring Garden's budget is just as tight as every other school's in the Philadelphia School District - it has no full-time counselor or nurse - but Robinson made reopening a library a priority. For five years she planned, using community partnerships to bring in books. In September, she hired a three-day-a-week librarian.
"Having a librarian," the principal said, "just helps to support what's going on in the classroom, with teachers. I just felt like it was a necessity. It would be remiss not to have a library."
Robinson is bucking a trend. In 1991, there were 176 certified librarians in city schools. Now there are 11 - for 218 schools.