That pretty much sums it up. As the fallout from the economic crash continues to make itself felt, school budgets are shrinking and school libraries are suffering. “And in New York City, half of the secondary schools appear to be in violation of a state regulation requiring them to have a librarian on staff, with the city currently employing 365 licensed librarians. ” Many NYC public school libraries are closing. This is alarming. Our graduation rates are embarrassing, and my fellow teachers are trying to make sure our students are prepared for college, but without a library, a school’s central learning center, how do we expect these students to navigate the complexities of a college library? How do we expect them to do college level research? When these libraries close there is no certified/trained librarian to manage the space, order books and technology, or teach those crucial 21st century skills New York City school kids need to be successful. In my own school library I teach students online research skills. Every time I teach these skills I ask students to tell me what steps they usually take for research. Their answers are simple: GOOGLE. Then I spend the next 40 minutes showing them why Google isn’t the best resource for their research and I teach them how to effectively search online databases. These are not intuitive skills! I’ve had many classroom teachers thank me for the lesson because now they understand how to do online research more efficiently. What would happen if I wasn’t here to teach these skills? The kids would solely rely on Google and Wikipedia. Our students can do better, but they need someone to teach them how.
What can we do? We can demand that all NYC public school libraries remain open. We can demand that each NYC public school has a certified and trained librarian on staff to manage the space and guide students in research and technology skills. Not to mention the books! In these hard economic times the public libraries have multiple holds on popular titles, and have had their funding cut. Parents have less money to spend on books for their children, as well. How can we expect kids to read if we don’t put books in their hands? Instead of using the economy as an excuse to close libraries, we should be using it as a reason to keep them open. Libraries are more important than ever!
I repeat: The economy is no excuse to close school libraries. Keep school libraries open because we need them even more in this economy!
So, please sign this petition. We’re asking for something simple: Keep school libraries open with certified and trained librarians. Anything less is not good enough. We can do better.