School Libraries Are Being Ignored
By Susan Ridgeway, Streetsboro Education Association
Having attended the ALA annual conference and Library Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, this past week, I was disheartened to read a recent AP story on my return home by Donna Gordon Blankenship, “Libraries Fading as School Budget Crisis Deepens.” She describes in detail how school systems all over the country are cutting school library media positions in an effort to balance budgets. Many districts have dismantled their libraries, eliminated book budgets, database budgets and put librarians back in the classroom since many of us were teachers first. While I concede that money is lacking across the board, the media positions are the last that should be cut when current standards are calling for 21st Century Skills to be implemented. For many children below the poverty line, a growing population, there is little hope that sophisticated technology skills will reach them simply through osmosis. As the middle class shrinks and their buying power diminishes, technology skills will be a valuable commodity that few can afford unless administrators and school boards begin to understand the expertise of school librarians, how they and school libraries help to implement these skills, and that equal access is essential.