Archives for category: Libraries

Ruth Ben-Ghiat writes a post on her blog about threats to democracy. One of this is described in this post: the threats to libraries and librarians by extremists who want to ban books.

This essay is dedicated to librarians and library staff across America, and to a family member who worked as a library clerk in an elementary school for many years.

“It felt like a knife in my heart,” said Audrey Wilson-Youngblood, a Texas library services coordinator, of the flood of accusations from parents that she and other library staff in the Keller Independent School District harmed students by having books on LGBTQ themes in their collections.

Across the country, librarians in school and municipal libraries feel that knife being turned. Activist parents, sometimes working in conjunction with GOP politicians or right-wing groups such as Moms for Liberty, are waging an authoritarian-style assault on libraries and librarians.

When illiberal forces are on the march, the education system and any public institution that encourages independent thinking and pluralism become targets. In Texas and elsewhere, the spread of censorship, and harassment meant to silence library workers –including by labeling them as pedophiles — models the authoritarian culture the right is trying to install in America school by school and town by town.

It’s not surprising that libraries and librarians trigger the enemies of our democracy. Public libraries are places where community members of all backgrounds, political beliefs, and economic situations gather, and where elderly and lonely people can find a sense of companionship. This is why social scientists single out libraries as antidotes to the conditions that harm civic life and ultimately degrade democracy: political polarization, disinformation, economic inequality, and isolation.

School and public libraries also have long provided refuge to people of all ages with difficult home situations, and librarians can become trusted mentors and guides.

My weekly visits as a child to my own town library set me on a path of learning. The library also became a personal anchor for me when I went through a difficult period as a teenager, to the point where I took a job there as a messenger clerk, as did a close friend (who is now a member of the Lucid community).

Shelving and straightening the books, and seeing how they were treated with such care, instilled a lifelong respect for the craft of writing and a commitment to intellectual freedom that sustain me today. As my friend notes, the library was “a safe space to think and dream.”

Of course, thinking and dreaming are activities that run counter to authoritarianism: “Believe, Obey, and Fight” was the Fascist slogan. Books become threatening objects, as centuries of bookburnings by repressive political and religious entities attest.

In the US, myriad state laws and book bans seek to remove the history of White racism, slavery, and Fascist genocides from view, along with writings about LGBTQ identities and experiences. In the Keller, Texas, school system alone, as of March almost three dozen books had been sent for review by a district-formed book committee on the grounds that they are “pornographic” or will create “emotional distress.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an expert in authoritarian double-speak, calls his version of such censorship “curriculum transparency.” Yet there is nothing transparent about the process by which books are removed. As Carolyn Foote, a retired Texas librarian and co-founder of the advocacy group FReadom Fighters notes, these aggressions are about “breaking that contract of trust” between librarians and the public and degrading professional ethics.

A display protesting book bans and restrictions at a local library. Charles Hickley/CC BY 2.0

The goal is not just to create a hostile work environment for library staff, but also to pressure administrators to submit to corrupt tactics such as banning books on spurious grounds and accepting slanderous speech used against their colleagues.

For right-wing parents and politicians aren’t just going after books. They are also personally attacking library employees as “groomers” who encourage inappropriate behaviors and relationships with children.

Associating LGBTQ individuals and their allies with pedophilia is an established strategy among the global right, including in Viktor Orban’s Hungary. And Vladimir Putin uses fake sex-crime charges to imprison researchers who are writing about things he wants buried.

Ideological fanaticism spurs attempts to dig into librarians’ private lives and harass them so they will resign. In Virginia Beach, GOP state representative Tim Anderson filed a FOIA Act request in May 2022 to learn the identities of librarians at schools that had materials some parents saw as sexually explicit.

It also lies behind attempts to criminalizelibrarians. In Clinton Township, NJ, the police department received a request for criminal charges to be made against librarians whose institutions had books with “obscene” content. And some states are challenging laws that shield teachers, researchers and librarians from prosecution. An Oklahoma law removed exemptions for teachers and librarians “from prosecution for willful violations of state law prohibiting indecent exposure to obscene material or child pornography.”

Unsurprisingly, many librarians have left their jobs. Some have resigned, others have been fired for refusing to remove books from their collections. Wilson-Youngblood, a 19-year veteran of the Keller school district, resigned due to the stress of working in a hostile environment. In small towns such as Vinton, Iowa, the library itself has had to close for lack of staffing.

Vinton’s fate may portend the future, since the number of groups targeted for censorship is bound to expand. In Vinton, right-wing activists not only objected to the presence of LGBTQ staff and LGBTQ-themed books, but displays of books by Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden. For radicalized Republicans, Democrats are not just people with different opinions, but political enemies whose ideas should be banned.

Luckily, the digitization of books makes it hard for total bans on content for children to stick. The Brooklyn Public Library’s Books UnBannedprogram offers a free library card to people aged 13 to 21 across the U.S. so they can check out books digitally.

Yet libraries and librarians urgently need our support. Contacting your town or school administration to express solidarity and approval with current policies is one way you can push back. Another is to step up as a volunteer or even run for office on a town or school board that has oversight on library issues.

What Amanda Litman, executive director and co-founder of Run For Something, said about school boards in our interview is also true of libraries. They play “a foundational role in determining the kinds of citizens that kids ultimately become.” Libraries, and librarians, are essential to a healthy democratic society.

Paul Waldman is an opinion columnist for The Washington Post. In this article, he criticizes Democrats for failing to stand up to Republican slanders and lies about public schools. He raises an important point: Why aren’t Democrats fighting Republican lies about the schools? Why aren’t the billionaires who claim to be liberal speaking out against this vicious campaign to destroy our public schools? One reason for the silence of the Democrats: Arne Duncan derided and insulted public schools and their teachers as often as Republicans.

Waldman wrote recently:

For the last year or so, Republicans have used the “issue” of education as a cudgel against Democrats, whipping up fear and anger to motivate their voters and seize power at all levels of government.

Isn’t it about time Democrats fought back?
Republicans have moved from hyping the boogeyman of critical race theory to taking practical steps to criminalize honest classroom discussions and ban books, turning their manufactured race and sex panic into profound political and educational change. Meanwhile, Democrats have done almost nothing about it, watching it all with a kind of paralyzed confusion.

Look no further than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is pushing legislation with the colorful name of the Stop Woke Act. As the Republican governor told Fox News this weekend, we need to allow people to sue schools over their curriculums, not only because of CRT but also because “there’s a lot of other inappropriate content that can be smuggled in by public schools.”

If you liked the Texas bill that effectively banned abortion in the state, you’re in luck. Republicans apparently want to use a version of that bill’s tactic — putting enforcement in the hands of private vigilantes — to make teachers and school administrators live under the same fear as abortion providers.

It’s happening elsewhere, too. A bill in Indiana allows the same kind of lawsuits. And last week, during a hearing on the bill, a GOP state senator got in trouble for saying that “I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position” on things like Nazism, because in the classroom, “we need to be impartial.” The state senator, Scott Baldwin, previously attracted attention when it was revealed that he made a contribution to the far-right Oath Keepers (though he claims he has no real connection to the extremist group).

Everywhere you look, Republicans are trying to outdo one another with state laws forcing teachers to parrot far-right propaganda to students. A Republican bill in Oklahoma would ban teachers from saying that “one race is the unique oppressor” or “victim” when teaching the history of slavery in America; its sponsor says that would bring the appropriate “balance” to the subject.

So ask yourself: What are Democrats telling the public about schools? If you vote for Democrats, what are you supposed to be achieving on this issue? If any voters know, it would be a surprise.
We’re seeing another iteration of a common Republican strategy: Wait for some liberal somewhere to voice an idea that will sound too extreme to many voters if presented without context and in the most inflammatory way possible, inflate that idea way beyond its actual importance, claim it constitutes the entirety of the Democratic agenda and play on people’s fears to gin up a backlash.

That was the model on “defund the police.” Now it’s being used on schools, which Republicans have decided is the issue that can generate sufficient rage to bring victory at the polls.
Devoted as they are to facts and rational argumentation, liberals can’t help themselves from responding to Republican attacks first and foremost with refutation, which allows Republicans to set the terms of debate. So their response to the charge that critical race theory is infecting our schools is something like this: “No, no, that has nothing to do with public education. It’s a scholarly theory taught mostly to graduate students.”

But that doesn’t allow for this response: “Republicans want to subject our kids to fascist indoctrination. Why do they want to teach our kids that slavery wasn’t bad? Why are they trying to ban books? Who’s writing their education policy, David Duke? Don’t let them destroy your schools!”


That, of course, would be an unfair exaggeration of what most Republicans actually want. Is a state senator who worries that public school teachers might be biased against Nazism really representative of the whole Republican Party? Let’s try to be reasonable here.

Or maybe being reasonable isn’t the best place to start when you’re being overrun. Maybe Democrats need to begin not with a response to Republican lies about what happens in the classroom, but an attack on what Republicans are trying to do to American education.

After Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governorship with a campaign largely focused on schools, Republicans everywhere decided that nurturing a CRT-based White backlash is the path to victory. That is their plan, whether Democrats like it or not.

This isn’t just coming from national Republicans. At the state and local level, far-right extremists are taking over education policy, leaving teachers terrified that if they communicate the wrong idea to students — like, apparently, being too critical of Nazis — they might get sued.

The implications of the GOP war on schools and teachers are horrifying, and with some exceptions, Democrats are watching it happen without anything resembling a plan to do anything about it. It might be time for all the party’s clever strategists to give it some thought.

Thanks to reader Kathyirwin1 for bringing this article to my attention. Egged on by Governor Gregg Abbott and legislator Matt Krause (who circulated a list of 850 books that should be removed from public school libraries, most because they deal with race, sexuality or inequality), critics are now targeting the books in the public libraries.

The public library in Llano County closed for three days while librarians reviewed their holdings. Libraries in other counties saw challenges to books that conservatives want removed from shelves.

Local public libraries in Texas, including those in Victoria, Irving and Tyler, are fielding a flurry of book challenges from local residents. While book challenges are nothing new, there has been a growing number of complaints about books for libraries in recent months. And the fact that the numbers are rising after questions are being raised about school library content seems more than coincidental, according to the Texas Library Association.

“I think it definitely ramped it up,” said Wendy Woodland, the TLA’s director of advocacy and communication, of the late October investigation into school library reading materials launched by state Rep. Matt Krause in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating.

In response to Krause’s inquiry, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped the Texas Education Agency to investigate the availability of “pornographic books” in schools. In the weeks since, school districts across the state have launched reviews of their book collections, and state officials have begun investigating student access to inappropriate content…

In Victoria, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, Dayna Williams-Capone says the number of complaints about books is the most she’s seen in her nearly 13 years working at the Victoria Public Library.

In August, Williams-Capone, the director of library services in Victoria, said her office received about 40 formal requests for review of books, primarily books for children and young adults that touch on topics of same-sex relationships, sexuality and race.

After Williams-Capone and her staff reviewed the requests, they decided to keep the books in the library. Residents who filed the complaints pushed forward, appealing the decision to the library’s advisory board for about half of the books, Williams-Capone said.

Last Wednesday, the library’s board voted not to remove the books from library shelves.

Most of the complaints are directed at books that feature same-sex relationships.

Wendy Woodland of the Texas Library Association said that:

“These efforts to mute or censor diverse voices in books is part of the just overall extreme divisiveness in our country that was really just exacerbated by the pandemic, [and] the actions taken by Rep. Krause and others have added fuel to that,” Woodland said.

She understands there will be those who may not like all of the books in a library. That’s not the point of a public library, she said.

“No book is right for everyone, but one book can make a big difference in one person’s life,” she said. “That’s what libraries are about — providing those windows and doors and mirrors to the community.”

In the past few months, there have been a number of articles about “the science of reading,” all touting the importance of phonics. I don’t know that there is a “science of mathematics” or a “science of history,” or a science of teaching any other subject. Although I have a long record in support of teaching phonics, I have long recognized that many children read without the help of phonics, many learn by being read to by their parents, many start reading because the grown ups in their lives make it important to them.

Nancy Bailey points out a central problem with the “science of reading.” The disappearance of libraries and librarians. The ed-tech industry has jumped on the “science of reading” bandwagon because it believes that a computer can teach sounds and symbols as well as a human teacher, maybe better, through repetitive exercises.

Nancy, as usual, says “hold on” and throws some common sense and experience into the discussion.

She writes:

The loss of libraries and qualified librarians in the poorest schools has reached a critical mass. Yet those who promote a Science of Reading (SoR), often supporting online reading programs, never mention the loss of school libraries or qualified librarians.

Ignoring the importance of school libraries and certified librarians delegitimizes any SoR. Children need books, reading material, and real librarians in public schools. If reading instruction doesn’t lead to reading and learning from books, what’s the point? Why should children care about decoding words if there’s no school library where they can browse and choose reading material that matters?

How do school districts prioritize reading when they shutter the only access some students have to books? Who will assist students when qualified school librarians are dismissed?

Across the country, as noted below, public school districts have chaotically closed school libraries and fired librarians. They have done this despite the fact that school libraries and qualified librarians are proven positive factors in raising reading scores in children.

When recent NAEP scores appeared low, no one questioned how the loss of school libraries and librarians in America’s poorest schools could have accounted for lower scores. Instead, they obsessed over rising scores in Mississippi, likely due to holding third graders back.

The SoR fans criticize teachers, university education schools, and reading programs. Most are not classroom teachers and they appear to be taking children down a path towards all-tech reading programs.

Unlike the abundance of research showing the benefit of libraries and librarians, there’s no proven research that online reading programs will help children read better, especially if they have a reading disability.

The Research

We’ve known for years, that schools with quality school libraries and school librarians have students who obtain better test scores. Numerous research studies support the importance of libraries and librarians….

A Few of the Many Places that Have Lost School Libraries and Librarians:

New York City: A 2015 Education Week report, “Number of Libraries Dwindles in N.Y.C. Schools” notes that the number of N.Y.C. school libraries plummeted from nearly 1,500 in 2005 to fewer than 700 in 2014. The biggest drops happened in the three years before this time. Michael Bloomberg was mayor. Libraries were severely understaffed.

Philadelphia: This city has seen a drastic reduction of school libraries. The situation is dire. The Philadelphia Enquirer 2020 report, “You Should Be Outraged by the State of Philly Public School Libraries,” shows that, like other school districts, Philadelphia has had to resort to raising funds through donations to save its school libraries. Many schools have no library.

Michigan: Michigan has a known literacy crisis, but policymakers don’t put two-and-two together. Between 2000 and 2016, Michigan saw a 73% decline in school librarians. In 2019, they began retaining third graders with reading difficulties threatening children to “learn or else,” a reform with research stacked against it. Schools turned libraries into media centers and makerspaces. None of this is working out well.

California: California is one of the worst states for a lack of school libraries and qualified librarians. (Ahlfeld). In 2013-14, 4,273 California schools completed a survey representing 43 percent of schools. Of those responding to the survey, 84 percent have a place designated as the library, although staffing, collections, and programs range from exemplary to substandard. Sixteen percent of the schools didn’t have a library. Librarians were mostly found in high schools. Few schools in California have a certified school librarian. Some schools only open the library one day a week. Many elementary schools don’t have library services.

Oakland: In Oakland they’ve lost libraries, or they exist but they have old, outdated books. Signs on the wall tell students they are not allowed to check out books, and 30% of the original 80 school libraries have closed. Fourteen of the 18 high school libraries are gone. Sometimes the PTA provides volunteers for students to check out books.

Virginia: Some states permit schools to staff school libraries with volunteers, a common way to replace certified librarians. Teachers might help students check out books, or they have books for students to check out in their classrooms. Virginia avoided school library chaos in 2018 when the Virginia Association of School Librarians and the Virginia Library Association lobbied the state senate’s education committee helping to narrowly defeat a bill that would have removed regulations for qualified librarians at the middle and high school level. The Virginia House Education Committee defeated Senate Bill 261 in a 12-10 vote.

Chicago: In 2013, then Mayor Rahm Emanuel had the press take a picture of him in a school library discussing a funding increase to the school. The librarian had just lost their job! At that time it was reported that Chicago had 200 schools without a library, or the libraries were staffed by volunteers. The situation is still dire The recent teachers strike brought necessary change, but librarians worry they weren’t on the receiving end. About 80% of the 514 district-run schools are still without a librarian. There are only 108 full-time working librarians in the district, down from 454 librarians in the 2012–2013 school year, the year of the last Chicago teachers strike. But the recent strike did bring needed recognition to loss of school librarians and school libraries.

Arizona: Like so many places, Arizona has children who face poverty and don’t have access to reading material and literacy opportunities. But with only 140 certified school librarians, 57 book titles available for 100 students, and an average library budget of $960, Arizona school libraries are treading water.

New Jersey: In 2012, officials in New Jersey pondered whether librarians were necessary to help students when all students had to do was look up information online. But librarians are still critical to student success in elementary, middle, and high schools. In 2016, they reported a 20% drop in the number of school library media specialists or teacher-librarians in the state since 2007-2008. The New Jersey Library Association began a campaign Unlock Student Potential to address this serious problem. If you are concerned about the state of school libraries and librarians, this provides reports about the problems facing New Jersey.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: In 2015, The Charlotte Observer published “Are School Librarians Going Way of the Milkman?” by Ann Doss Helms over concern about the loss of librarians and media specialists. School administrators used the excuse that teachers could offer books in their classrooms and get students library cards to the public library. This weakens the school structure, and paves the way to school privatization.

Denver: As more students entered the Denver school system, in 2019, they saw a 60% drop in their school librarians despite a previous 2012 study showing that Schools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have more students scoring advanced in reading in 2011 and to have increased their performance more than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one. How could they ignore what worked?

Florida: In 2015, The Florida Times-Union reported “Media specialists (librarians) almost endangered species in Duval schools.”Librarians are called media specialists there, but 110 media specialists had dropped to 70, leaving only 68 librarians in elementary schools, one at a high school, and one left at a middle school. In 2018, the number of librarians lost included 73 in Duval County, 206 in Dade County, 78 positions in Pasco County, and 47 librarians lost in Polk County (Sparks & Harwin).

Houston: The loss of school librarians began around 2008-2009 school year and got so bad many put bumper stickers that said “Houston We Have a Librarian Problem.” Houston started with 168 librarians. By 2013, it had dropped to 97 serving 282 K-12 schools. In 2019, the Houston Chronicle told about children coming home without books to read in their backpacks. Their 320 student school didn’t have a well-stocked library or full-time librarian.

Ohio: In 2015, it was reported that Ohio had lost more than 700 librarian positions over a decade. In that same year, the School Library Journal posted this report, “OH Department of Education Will Vote to Purge School Librarian Requirement.”

It appears that an emphasis on decoding, without addressing the loss of school libraries and qualified librarians, is intentionally incomplete for a reason. We know the importance of a school library and qualified librarians to a well-functioning school. Blaming teachers and their education schools for poor student reading scores, while ignoring this loss, indicates that forces are at work to end public education and replace teachers with screens. The SoR focus looks to be about this, and should be seen for it’s real agenda.

Nancy then offers a list of sources to prove her claim that libraries in schools are crucial for cultivating a love of reading. Access to books matters.

There is a difference between reading and literacy. Reading can be low-level or it can be a tool for gaining knowledge and knowing how to absorb it.

Open her post and read it.

She makes her case.

 

I am often asked what billionaires should do with their money if they stopped investing in privatization.

Here is a small project for billionaires in California.

Los Angeles may close its elementary school libraries. 

Can’t afford them.

Where are you, Reed Hastings? Eli Broad? Bill Bloomfield? Arthur Rock? Mark Zuckerberg?

You give millions to charters and TFA, and what good have you done?

Do something real.

Be the Andrew Carnegie of LA.

Support libraries for elementary schools.

No, it won’t transform everything. But it will change lives.

Steve Lopez wrote in the LA Times:

Here we go again, tumbling down the shaft and into a bizarro world in which school libraries lock out students who need them most.

L.A. Unified elementary school libraries are on the chopping block once again, and library aides, many of whom could lose their jobs, are screaming for justice.

Some L.A. Unified board members, meanwhile, have made passionate pleas to keep the doors open.

“If you’re not reading by grade level by third grade, you’re going to struggle for the rest of your life,” said board member Scott Schmerelson, who has introduced a resolution calling for the district to come up with the necessary funding.

But just a few months after the L.A. Unified teachers’ strike drew strong public support for better pay and more resources for the struggling district, budget woes are forcing miserable choices that will hit students hard.

“An elementary school library is one of the more magical places in a child’s life,” said Meredith Kadlec, a second-grade parent who has been writing letters in the campaign to ward off cuts. “Imagination is born from books, and what about the kids who don’t get that enrichment at home? I feel like we’re going the wrong way in America when libraries are at risk.”

They’ve been at risk for years now in L.A. Unified. Many years ago, every school had a fully funded librarian. But as budget problems became more severe, teacher-librarians gave way to library aides, who then got laid off by the hundreds before being rehired. In the recent past, some libraries have been locked up despite the district having spent millions on new books. Typically, elementary school libraries are open only every other week as it is, and aides split their time between two schools

The strike settlement earlier this year resulted in teacher raises and promises of eventual reduced class size, nurses on every campus, and a commitment to have a teacher-librarian on every middle and high school campus.

But elementary schools got no commitment on library aides. In recent years, those positions — which used to be directly funded by the district — became optional expenses made at the discretion of principals. But those principals have to make gut-wrenching decisions with limited discretionary funds at their disposal. And the needs, in a district in which 80% of the roughly 600,000 students live in poverty and 90% are minorities, always exceed the available money.

The people of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania should be ashamed: the entire school district has seven school librarians, maybe fewer. The charter lobby, like vultures, has stripped the district bare of all but the buildings (and itcesnts them too).

Recently a community raised $90,000 to reopen its library. O

http://www.philly.com/education/philly-school-library-bache-martin-friends-20190111.html

The Philadelphia Inquirer called it “a miracle” when the library reopened at an elementary school. But it was no miracle. It was the schools’ parents, who raised $90,000.

Then the Superintendent, Mayor, Congressman, et al had the nerve to show up at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. No shame! They gave not one red cent, not one bit of support.

The School District of Philadelphia has fewer than 7 school librarians.

Retired teacher Lisa Haven and retired school librarian Deb Grill wrote about why Philadelphia needs school libraries:

https://thenotebook.org/articles/2019/01/15/opinion-all-schools-and-all-students-need-libraries/

Nancy Bailey reminds us of the importance of libraries. And she warns us of a dangerous trend to turn them into “makerspaces,” where children can play with technology.

I have seen schools with Makerspaces, and they are wonderful. But can’t schools find a room for them without taking away the library?

Bailey writes:

Libraries have always been places where students can work independently. But the Maker Movement appears to be about replacing school libraries and the role of librarians with digital learning.

There is a concerted effort to convert libraries to Makerspaces, Hackspaces, or Fab Labs. Why? Why can’t these places be set up in another room, or why can’t teachers include hands-on activities in their classes? Why can’t some part of the library be used for these activities without an overall library conversion to digital instruction?…

There might be benefit in children making things. Hands on activities have always been valued and help children better understand subjects. Teachers have always had students do class projects. But students still need access to books for reading and research. They also need qualified librarians to guide them.

We know that when schools have great libraries students do well. We have no idea whether Makerspaces alone improve a student’s understanding of subjects. Some see Makerspaces as a trend along with Common Core State Standards that will eventually end. When that happens, will there also be no more libraries?

The privatization movement, ever on the lookout for profit opportunities, is moving fast into the takeover of public libraries. Since a for-profit corporation must pay its investors, privatization is actually a budget cut for the library.

Jeremy Mohler of “In the Public Interest” describes here how the privatizers are targeting public libraries.

“With 82 branches across six states, Library Systems & Services (LS&S) is the country’s third-largest library system, smaller than only Chicago and New York City. It pitches itself to towns and counties by making many of the same arguments in the op-ed. That libraries aren’t “innovative” enough without the corporation’s management and “social entrepreneurship.” That it can help libraries become a “third place” between work and home — as if they weren’t already just that for many poor and working people.

“Like Amazon, LS&S slashes employee pay and benefits to turn a profit while shrouding its dealings in secrecy. Last year, it was hit with nearly $70,000 in penalties for wage and hour violations. In 2016, an audit of one of its libraries in Oregon revealed that 28 percent of the public money paid to the corporation was filed under the ominous category of “other,” unknown even to public officials.

“Fortunately, communities often resist LS&S coming into town. Just this week, Seminole County, Florida, decided to keep its libraries under public control after residents organized. Earlier this year, leaders in Santa Clarita, California, voted to end the city’s contract after LS&S replaced all 17 of its librarians.”

 

Nancy Bailey writes here that one of the sources of reading failure is the disappearance of libraries and librarians. 

Ironically, I just learned that New York State adopted the edTPAassessment for librarians, and it is not liked by those in the field. Excellent would-be librarians, I hear, are not likely to pass it, while it favors those who give scripted responses. Is the goal to create s shortage of librarians? Ask the state commissioner.

Bailey writes:

Poor students attend poor schools where they miss out on the arts, a whole curriculum, even qualified, well prepared teachers. Students might end up in “no excuses” charter schools with only digital learning.

But, next to hunger and healthcare, one of the worst losses for children in poor schools is the loss of a school library with a real librarian.

Stephen Krashen, a well-known reading researcher and advocate for children, provided a study he and his co-authors did as proof why school libraries help children be better readers. He is adamant that children need access to books, and he believes good school libraries are “the cure.” We often hear that getting books into the hands of very young children is important. It’s also critical to ensure that children who are in fourth grade and beyond have access to books!

Many poor schools have closed their school libraries, citing a lack of funding. Oakland, California lost thirty percent of their school libraries. Cities from Los Angeles to New York report library closures.

Chicago has lost school libraries. Some there blame the teachers union who pushed not to replace the librarian at one elementary school with volunteers. But good school libraries require good librarians.

School districts in many places keep school libraries open, but they let go of their certified librarians. This is a loss for children.

In 2013, when I started this blog and website, I listed under “Reading” a link showing a map of all the schools in the country that no longer have certified school librarians. That link began in 2010, and sadly the list has grown!…..

Joan Kramer, a hero of public libraries, public education, and the common good, died a few days ago.

Joan was a hero to all who knew and loved her.

This is a tribute from some of her friends who knew her well.

Here she is testifying before the Los Angeles Unified School District board on behalf of libraries.

She had a fantastic blog, beautifully illustrated. I recommend that you read it.

You can see her beautiful spirit in her words. I especially loved her story about Allen Funt, the Candid Camera guy.

Farewell, Joan. We will miss you. Your followers will carry on and multiply, to spread your message about the values of literacy, knowledge, civilization, and the power of the public space.