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School Library Month in Chicago: Yes, a celebration!

Like the situation we witnessed in Philadelphia, the children of Chicago, ALA’s host city, now face a crisis.

I post this on behalf of a new Library Advocacy Committee for Chicago Public School Librarians, who chose to celebrate School Library Month by sharing their accomplishments on behalf of Chicago’s kids.

Please share their story.

School Library Month (SLM) is the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. Every April school librarians are encouraged to create activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in a student’s educational career.

Chicago Public Schools librarians are celebrating too!  A new Twitter page has been created by CPS Certified School Librarians this weekend to highlight the GREAT things Chicago school librarians are doing every day with students in their libraries.   Follow this Twitter page to view projects, pictures and read articles about school libraries.

Don’t have a Twitter account?  You can view the tweets here

A bit of history:

May, 2013

Numerous school-librarians were informed that their positions would be closed.  Students across the city were informed that they would not have a school librarian for the following school year and the library would be closed. This created unrest with our students as they had developed a trusting relationship with their school librarians. Committed to educating our students, these librarians returned to the classroom and began classroom instruction.

August, 2013

At some schools, vacant librarian positions were filled by non-certified teacher aides, library clerks and classroom teachers (who were placed in the library by principals to retain their jobs).

And now

This year, our Board of Education has proposed mandatory gym and fine arts programs along with additional budget cuts throughout the system.  It has been suggested that school librarian positions should be closed.

What Can You Do To Help?

This is a critical time for librarians in Chicago and throughout the country!

Please help this committee by following our new Twitter page and retweet our messages. 

Our first set of Tweets will begin later today!   Join us as we highlight the GREAT things Chicago Librarians are doing, ensure that every CPS student has a professionally staffed library and bring attention to the attack on school librarians nationwide.

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


  1. Amazing – study after study shows the value of a media program, but because administrators and Boards of Education don’t know what we do, they figure that we don’t do anything but check books in and out. And of course, the ubiquitous “everything’s on the Internet” so why do we need librarians?

  2. Marybeth says

    I agree that certified librarians, teacher librarians, media specialists, or whatever name you call them by are vital to any educational institution. In a perfect world, all districts would recognize their value and have plenty of funds to afford to pay them what they are worth. But we don’t live in a perfect world, especially financially. So what I don’t necessarily agree with, in light of that, is the idea that a non-certified “library clerk” cannot also be just as important to a school’s culture. I’ve known many so-called clerks, library aides or library assistants, who have teaching degrees, library technical assistant certification, or simply many years of library experience, and are just as knowledgeable, resourceful, and passionate (sometimes more so) about books, reading and libraries than many degreed librarians.
    If a district has already made the decision to eliminate the librarian position (and we all know that once the decision is made it is rarely repealed!), at least the school is not left without a library program completely. I’ve worked in public and school libraries for more than 20 years and consider myself a very valuable resource, as do many of my colleagues.
    I understand the nature of this issue; I am just tired of being considered “less” when I know I make a difference to our students.

    • Donna Hausfeld says

      Thank you, Marybeth, for articulating so clearly the value of a knowledgeable library assistant. I am a certified library technical assistant and a pre-school educator with many years of experience. I am also passionate about children’s literature and am experienced at reading aloud, book talking and storytelling. If school and public libraries would embrace all that well-trained assistants can offer, library experiences would be richer for all patrons. We do not strive to replace librarians, but please do not deny us the chance to share our talents and training.

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