The (Unfair) Fight Against School Librarians

Rita Meade

Staff Writer

Rita Meade is a public library manager (and children's librarian at heart) who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Here at Book Riot, she hosts the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly bookish advice show. She reads as much as she possibly can (and it's still never enough), reviews children's books for "School Library Journal," and is the author of a forthcoming picture book called Edward Gets Messy (Simon & Schuster Young Readers, 2016). She also occasionally writes about funny library stuff over on her blog, and even less occasionally sings in a librarian band. Blog: Screwy Decimal Twitter: @screwydecimal


I am not monogamous when it comes to library love. Subsequently, when my school librarian friends start to get picked on, I will hop on my library advocacy soapbox for them with the same fervor as I do for public librarians. (And you KNOW how much I love that library advocacy soapbox.)

So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s happening: schools across the country are outright laying off their librarians/media specialists or taking massive strides to eventually lay them off in an apparent cost-saving measure. (In the case of Miami, they are bizarrely opening up school libraries to the public while at the same time attempting to slash public library services.) Anecdotally, I can tell you that in some NYC schools, there is no library access whatsoever. It goes without saying that this is bad, people. This is all bad.

Click on the links below for some scary news about the current fight against school librarians.

From the WSJ (NYC):

City Schools Are Quietly Using Fewer Librarians
Officials Estimate More Than Half of High Schools Violate State Regulations

You can also read more about NYC school libraries here and here.

From Penn Live (PA):

Harrisburg School Library Staff Eliminated With Recent Layoffs

From the Miami Herald (FL):

Miami-Dade School Libraries to Open Monday to the Public

And these are just a few examples.

The issue, of course, is that school librarians are empoyed in school libraries FOR A REASON. They are specially trained to engage students with the specific school library collection, teach computer literacy and research skills, and so much more. AND there is research to back this up, which is being wholly ignored by the people making the decisions to cut librarians from schools. Check out just a couple of articles:

From School Library Journal:

Latest Study: A full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement

From STEM Wire:

School Librarians Can Be Crucial Partners in STEM

So what can WE do about it? Well, in NYC, we are already starting to fight this. You can help by signing one or both of the petitions below to keep librarians in schools:

Petition created by Urban Librarians Unite:
Librarians Belong in NYC Schools

Petition Statement:

“School Librarians are essential to education. We the undersigned feel that the NYC DOE (New York City Schools), should NOT be granted an exemption to state law which requires school librarians and which they have been in gross violation of for some time. School librarians have been shown to improve student performance in numerous studies and New York City public school students have a right to this important educational resource.”

Petition created by AQENY:

Stop the NYC DOE From Skirting Its Responsibilities!”

Petition Statement:

“The NYC Department of Education is asking the state to grant them a waiver so schools are no longer required to have librarians. Already, more than half of the city’s high schools are in violation of state regulations that requires librarians, and the quantity of librarians in our schools have been in a steady decline.”

If you live in other areas, you can try writing to your school board, principal, or anyone else who you think will listen. (If there is a specific fight going on where you live, let me know in the comments.)

Communities need their schools, schools need their librarians, and librarians need to be fought for. Now, go get ’em!


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