“Library Build” non-profit a wonderful idea to revive school libraries

I noticed an interesting article yesterday in yesterday’s Philadelphia “Inquirer.” Written by Kristen A. Graham, it is about teacher Callie Hammond, laid off last June, who has set up a non-profit group called “Library Build.” Here is a link to a Facebook page as well as a blog. What she plans to do is raise enough money to pay library science graduates to run a few Philadelphia elementary school libraries on a two-year contract basis.

A truly wonderful idea!

I just cannot imagine why the U.S. Department of Education is allowing school libraries to close, while simultaneously expecting improvement in standardized test scores so that no child is left behind.

Well hello? Libraries are about books, access to Internet encyclopedias and literacy in all manner of ways, including how to use a library and traditional research skills. So, how is it that U.S. teachers are being fired because of low standardized testing scores when county and federal governments are making it nearly impossible for children to succeed? We know, for example, that test scores decline as soon as school libraries are shut down or operate unstaffed.

Well, at least Hammond understands the situation and I hope everyone who reads about her endeavour understands it as well. I wish her only success, particularly in getting through to the board officials who are closing school libraries and firing teachers for low test scores. I also hope the initiative gets through to the lawmakers who are making teachers work with their hands tied behind their backs.

Talk about a catch 22 situation!


Endnote: While Ontario schools still have libraries, they are no longer staffed by qualified teacher-librarians. Instead, to save money, they are staffed by library technicians. And, while technicians do a great job at shelving and managing book collections, they are not qualified or permitted to teach literacy or research skills. In other words, we are one step from the U.S. situation. How was it, for example, that previous generations benefitted from teacher-librarians and now do not — even though taxpayers are spending billions more now? What has changed? And, more specifically, whatever happened to the amazing Ontario library guidelines and report called “Partners in Action?”

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