Tag: libraries

Spokane Public Schools Turn a Cold Shoulder to Librarians

Remember your favorite school librarian?

In Spokane, Washington, future students might grow up not knowing what a librarian does.

Two weeks ago, the Spokane, Washington Public Schools superintendent announced that librarians in public schools will be laid off before the academic year begins again in the fall, although the libraries themselves—generally very large rooms with hundreds of books and programs and resources that students need assistance navigating—will remain.

 

Library

Image vIA eLLA’S lIST

 

Students will still have the opportunity to visit their school’s library, even if there’s no one to help them use it. As for library services, teachers will be expected to perform the librarians’ old duties—in addition to being teachers—while their students are visiting the library, according to The Spokesman-Review.

Just to be clear, school librarians often have degrees in library science and have been thoroughly trained in the instruction of research applications that library patrons have the option to use. The void left by a mass-migration of trained school librarians cannot be filled by giving the keys to teachers who already have full-time jobs outside the library.

 

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Librarians are not guaranteed replacement positions in the public school system once they have been ousted from their jobs, although some librarians with suitable experience might be placed as teachers in the schools and communities that need them most. 

Specifically, the district’s choice to cut librarians out of the budget comes after the announcement for a $31 million deficit for the year; generally, across the country, more and more school districts are eliminating librarian positions, and more librarians are switching to part-time work. 

 

Library Closed for Budget Cuts

 

 

Another recent article from The Spokesman-Review claims public schools with more low-income students will be hit far harder by the layoffs than schools which serve more middle-and high-income families; in other words, more librarians will be removed from communities where students are already receiving subsidized school lunches, and from which librarians and other school faculty are leaving en masse for ‘better’ schools and neighborhoods.

Teachers are seeing salary increases with the elimination of librarians, with some employees receiving a 10-15% bonus.

 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Uproar as Yale Library Announces Plans to Cut 90,000 Books from Circulation

Every library, every bookstore offers a unique experience to readers that a website or an online database don’t allow: browsing. Yeah, yeah I know. We browse Twitter and Goodreads all day long looking for books, but how many times have you gone out and read those books you’ve found? Conversely, when that book is in your hand during your browsing how many times have you read it? The latter definitely offers more opportunity for readers.

When Yale University announced it was planning on condensing Bass Library down from 150,000 books to a mere 40,000 students were in an uproar. Cutting 90,000 books out of circulation is a direct attack on book culture, and it ends up eliminating the ability and importance of browsing shelves. When writing research papers, the internet has definitely become a huge help in finding resources. Browsing shelves, however, allows students the ability to find new books and resources that don’t always pop up on an internet search.

 

IMAGE VIA YALE UNIVERSITY

Students banded together to make sure this controversial proposal didn’t go through. They began checking out everything including Dr. Seuss to show the need for diverse titles and a large collection. The library’s proposal did change, cutting down the collection to 61,000 instead of 40,000. This cuts out multiple copies of the same books and any books that are not checked out frequently. The new proposal announces that books will be moved from the Bass Library to an upper floor in the Sterling Memorial Library. Students still not happy with this change claim that the lighting in Sterling isn’t nearly as bright and can be more intimidating to new students. Books that do not make their way to Sterling, will be moved to an offsite storage location. Books can be requested and filled within a day, but it still takes away from browsing privileges.

There were also concerns over whether or not these renovations would be finished in time for the Fall 2019 semester. Yale is expanding the incoming freshmen class by fifteen percent, which demands there be easier access to and more available seating in libraries. The concern is over where students will be able to go to study and perform research tasks if an entire library is out of commission. The updated proposal targets the end of the renovation project to finish before the start of the fall term.

featured image via yale daily news
Arthur displays his library card.

A Librarian’s Guide to Fighting Discrimination

Earlier this year, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) published a digital resource for librarians as part of its push for freedom of expression (and book titles) in school libraries. The manual, an eight-page PDF file titled “Defend LGBTQ Stories,” outlines a number of difficult or delicate circumstances educators will encounter as their students develop literary tastes, and offers specific advice on how to be an ally and set an example of compassion for all students. The guide offers librarians simplified tools for de-stigmatizing LGBTQ themes, protesting banned books, staying up to date on school policy changes, communicating with the NCAC, and sharing their experiences on social media.

This fledgeling resource — a small, but mighty PDF — comes as part of a subset of the NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program called the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP). This grassroots-inspired program unites community members and national organizations to oppose the growing tangle of restrictions placed on library media in American schools. According to the NCAC’s website, the KRRP rallies “teachers, booksellers, librarians, local reporters and free speech advocates” to protect the reading rights of students.

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These subsets of the NCAC, itself an entity composed of fifty nonprofit organizations, do not have the legal clout to directly influence policy change in the American education system. Instead, they rely on time-tested community advocacy to drum up significant local support to challenge cases on an individual basis, while making these methods accessible to the public. Since 2016, for example, the Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has pushed bills which aim to restrict materials allowed in Florida classrooms based on their educational value. The NCAC offers a thorough breakdown of the proposed legislation, a timeline for its development, and a history of the FLCA’s past initiatives. This document, available on the NCAC’s website, is free to read and share, and gives activists the help they need to make sure kids can read whatever they please.

While the NCAC’s resource “Defend LGBTQ Stories” is in effect a glorified How-To guide for being a properly “woke” librarian in an American school, it is nonetheless a tremendously productive and helpful tool which, in the hands of community activists and national associations alike, has the potential to effect real change and inspire a future generation that embraces diversity.

 

Featured Image via Arthur

Budget Cuts

‘Book Poverty:’ The Epidemic of Closing Libraries

March 7, 2019 is World Book Day, and fewer children than ever are reading. Budget cuts and library closures are serious threats to childhood literacy—and marginalized communities have been impacted the most severely.

 

Cartoon depicts library budget cuts leading to closings

Image Via Cagle Cartoons

 

Libraries offer more than just books—if books are ever ‘just’ anything. Just a whole world small enough to fit into your backpack? Just a $2,000 plane ticket for the low low price of $0.00? Just a work of art as enduring as any hanging up in a museum (and one that you can take home without being arrested)? Libraries are a safe community space offering accessible resources, like adult education, language classes, and research databases. These programs are open to seniors, children, and disadvantaged members of the community—an opportunity that exists regardless of socioeconomic status when so few opportunities do. Will libraries in wealthier communities have more funding? Yes. But libraries remain an integral community feature.

Or, rather, they would if they were staying open.

 

Library Closed for Budget Cuts

Image Via Baristanet

 

In the U.K., the number of library book loans dropped from 255,128,957 in 2011 to 157,387,109 in 2018—a shocking 38% decrease that, unfortunately, isn’t as shocking as book-lovers might think. In the wake of 700 library closures since 2010, Library Campaign chair Laura Swaffield said there was only one surprise: “that the decline in book loans isn’t even larger.”

When the libraries go, so do the librarians: over 700 full-time library employees faced termination last year alone. While 3,000 volunteers have taken their places, this is a stopgap measure and not a solution. The problem is the drastic budget cuts, and—like so many other problems—money may be the only solution.

It’s either the solution, or it’s yet another problem. Given the £2 million proposed cuts for 2019, it looks like the latter. In the U.K., only 25% of eight to eighteen year olds read daily. If that statistic sounds dire, it gets even worse: that’s a full 20% drop from just four years earlier. As libraries lose money, children lose interest in reading—because some of them lose access to engaging, affordable books. This phenomenon, “book poverty,” describes the grim reality for disadvantaged young people: one in eight poor U.K. children doesn’t own a single book. Childhood literacy is widely known as “the single most important factor” in the success of a child’s education; yet when it comes time for budget cuts, it’s considered one of the least important criteria for funding.

 

Encyclopedic volumes on benefits of libraries, brochure of downsides

Image Via Cagle Cartoons

 

Featured Image Via K-12 Insight.