Should Be Reading, asks the following question: The local Catholic school board is closing its school libraries, and parents and teachers - and even students - are in an uproar. Budget cuts demand that the board choose something to get rid of...they chose libraries. As such, many librarians have lost their jobs. And, the board is moving the books to the classrooms instead. They feel that this is a good solution.
What do you think? Should schools be without an actual library room? Is this a good solution?
My thoughts: Well, as a teacher at an inner-city Catholic school, I understand the dilemma. My school is actually a rare success story in urban education - our scores have dramatically improved, enrollment has gone up and teacher retention has gone up, through endless hard work from staff and parents. However, since we're in one of the poorest Chicago neighborhoods, money is an ever-present issue. We have a "library" that is never used - we can't afford a librarian's salary and most of the books are older than I am. It breaks my heart to see these books go unread, but I totally understand that my 8th graders want to read The Hunger Games, not the Trixie Belden series. And sadly, we just don't have the funding to build the kind of library our students need.
The public schools in this neighborhood are awful. Last fall, a teacher was stabbed by a 7th grader. So my school serves a vital purpose in this neighborhood - a safe environment where kids can truly get an education. Unfortunately, many of our parents work 2+ jobs in order to pay the tuition (which is actually one of the lowest in the archdiocese). If my school must allocate money to financial aid for students at the expense of a library so that we can educate more kids, then I'm in favor of it. I know it comes at a devastating cost, but my job forces me to look at the bigger picture.
I love libraries - my library card is practically see-through from so much use. And when I was in school, the library was my favorite place to go. It almost physically hurts to see my students lose that opportunity, and I think it is an appalling statement about our country that we're allowing libraries to close because of funding issues. I'm so sad for those librarians, whose jobs put them in line for sainthood (Catholic school or otherwise!). If those schools do move the books into the classroom, I hope the schools will be able to keep them on as "traveling librarians." After all, at least students will still have access to those books. Not ideal, but the alternative is undoubtedly worse...