Monday, May 16, 2011

School-library cuts a miscommunication problem


A CBC COMMUNITY NEWS POLL asks, School libraries: How important are they to learning and critical thinking?  Should school boards cut other programs before they close libraries and layoff librarians? Why or why not? How important are school libraries to learning and developing critical thinking?

Since posting the poll yesterday, respondents have shown a heavy (89%) leaning to "extremely important."  Vote now.
I for one am quite certain that, when Sir Ken Robinson calls for the return of creativity to education, he would agree that now is the exactly right time for creative leadership. Teacher-librarians are grateful to those who can think "outside the box" created for us by the accountability agenda, administrators who see the possibilities for powerful partnerships amongst educators, including teacher-librarians as agents of change, as key to creating and empowering meaningful learning in schools. The capacity of teacher-librarians to empower reading and learning in schools is seriously impaired when those who make staffing decisions have narrow interpretations of what literacy is and a fixation on the tools, not the processes, of learning. They "box in" reading and learning and constrain the "big picture" re-thinking in ways that may, in fact, have the exact opposite effect of what they seek to achieve.
Information literacy is a term educators use to describe the skills students need to find and use good information in the digital age. But principals probed in the People for Education survey didn't see the term in the same way when asked about their school's information literacy strategy. Instead, they talked about their school's strategy to improve reading and writing test scores (Montreal Gazette).
Prompting this blogpost has been a flurry of articles from Eastern Canada and elsewhere about the news of cuts to school libraries, as well as the dreadful and unimaginable developments for teacher-librarians in California (see earlier post about weeping). 

Read more from Montreal Gazette, May 16, 2011, by Jordan Press:
See also:
Parents get school libraries too.  To ensure that parents' views are heard in the local discourse about the importance of school libraries, I add this note that, that at the April 2011 BCCPAC conference, the following Vancouver motion was passed: 

BE IT RESOLVED THAT BCCPAC insist that the Ministry of Education ensure that all public school libraries be adequately funded to provide equitable access to school library programs that meet the learning needs of all students. This should include time for the teacher and teacher-librarian to plan and teach units collaboratively, for students to access the library for research, as well as whole class instruction, under the guidance of a teacher-librarian, and for regular opportunities each week for all students to work with the teacher-librarian to use library resources and to choose books for personal reading.


School libraries serve every single child in the school. Research has shown that achievement improves
when children learn in schools that have reasonably stocked school libraries with a qualified teacher-librarian who is given adequate time to work with classes. Implementing minimum levels of staffing
would ensure that all students in BC have equitable physical and intellectual access to the resources and services of the school library program. Minimum staffing levels of 1 FTE for each elementary or middle school and 1 FTE for every 702 students at the secondary school level would ensure equitable access for all students. School libraries cannot be replaced with public libraries, nor can teacher-librarians be replaced with clerks or technicians. Teacher-librarians differ from clerks, technicians, and librarians in public libraries, in that their main focus is one of instruction for all students.  Every child in this province should have the chance to read and learn supported by a range of technological tools, print and digital resources, and the services of a teacher-librarian.

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