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What’s going on?

I was going to share two cool little stories but the ones that make me angry cry out to be heard first.  The Washington moms absolutely started something. 

But I am afraid it’s going to take a movement, a national mobilization to stop the insanity.  What will it take to get folks to recognize that libraries are NOT just nice extras they can trim when money is tight?  What will it take to get folks to recognize that libraries are core learning spaces, essential elements of school culture?

This week, two friends (veteran professionals I truly respect) from two different states, told me their jobs were being eliminated.  On our own Pennsylvania state listserv, yet another librarian shared that this coming fall, she will be covering two libraries because the elementary position in her district is to be eliminated.

On LM_NET, Ann Ewbanks announced this sad situation in Mesa, Arizona and requested our immediate support in the form of emails and faxes to the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board. 

The Board will vote today on a proposal that would eliminate, over a three-year period, every professional teacher-librarian.  The plan is to staff Mesa’s school libraries with library assistants instead. Mesa is the largest school district in Arizona and this proposal will affect 74,000 students in 87 schools. Nurses and speech experts will also be replaced by assistants.

AASL President Sara Kelly Johns, shared the fax she sent to the board:

Dear Dr. Duvall and Mr. Crandall—I was in Mesa for six days (4/7-13) for my son’s wedding at the Wright House and, if I had known that this proposal was being considered, I would have been pleased to talk to you in person about it. The cost to your students of dismantling the district’s library media program at a time when students need more help with literacy, not less, and more instruction in dealing with the effective use of information, could have a serious effect on your students’ achievement. Certificated library media teachers are trained to select excellent resources to encourage student reading and support the curriculum, to give instruction in 21st century skills, and to co-teach with every teacher, every teaching style and every learning style. The program is the foundation of learning in a school. I sincerely hope that you will reconsider this drastic proposal.

Sara Kelly Johns, President, American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

I interrupt this ugliness to share my happy stories from what now seems like lala land:

A while back I wrote that I worried students involved in our one-to-one laptop programs would be less likely to use the visit the library.  We are noticing a major turn around.  Teachers who stayed away for bit are coming back. Students now visit with their laptops.  Students and teachers prefer the energy, the varied resources, the community, and the help they get in the library.  (Two new issues we had to address: how to carry laptops safely when walking through the halls and adding the library printers as choices on the laptops print menu.)

And a biology teacher visited today with a little gift.  He asked his class to visually represent an analogy for a cell.  In Taylor and Julia’s metaphor, a curly-haired librarian represents the nucleus.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza



    What a compliment for the students to see you as the nucleus of their school! And after seeing both of your presentations at TLA, I can understand why. Thank you.

  2. Insanity it is…even here in Washington, in the midst of the Washington moms (they are amazing!) programs are being cut. If our district’s levy doesn’t pass (2nd time around…) every teacher librarian in the district is out…13,000 students without a professional in the library, a couple of brand new libraries and no one to run them…too often teacher librarians are seen as expendable, even as we work and advocate and teach and collaborate to get students ready for the next steps in their lives.

  3. Rob Darrow says:

    Yeah, and the same thing is happening up and down the state of California. Very sad and it takes a lot of the wind out of the advocacy sails!

  4. Yeah, and the same thing is happening up and down the state of California. Very sad and it takes a lot of the wind out of the advocacy sails!

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