Are School Libraries Really in Danger?

Why School Libraries Matter

(Video courtesy of: The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, and the Health Sciences Library Consortium, via an IMLS National Leadership Grant.  Read more.

Our children’s education and readiness for the workforce are in peril as school library budgets and school librarians are cut.

  • Across the country, testing pressures and budget decisions have led to decisions to eliminate school libraries and school librarians. Yet, school libraries and school librarians are among the most effective and efficient resources to boost student academic achievement.
  • School libraries that are adequately funded deliver incredible value by increasing student achievement.
  • Volunteers cannot replace a certified school librarian. Volunteers play a valuable role in helping students and schools, but do not bring the teaching and research expertise of a certified school librarian.

Despite their important contributions to student success, school libraries and school library programs throughout the United States are in danger. As a result, many students aren’t developing all the skills they’ll need for success in college and their careers.

The primary problem is money. Since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, many districts have fewer tax dollars to spend. Cuts must be made. Unfortunately, in some districts, school libraries are seen as a “frill”—nice to have, but not essential to student learning. Some decision makers view the Internet and Worldwide Web or public libraries as replacements for school library programs guided by a certified school librarian in every school. The Internet and Web are not replacements for school libraries.

School libraries are being closed or underfunded—often in districts with disadvantaged students who are most in need of strong school library programs led by a state-certified school librarian. When school libraries and school librarians are eliminated, students suffer. Districts large and small have reached a crisis. For example, in Los Angeles, “About half of the 600 elementary and middle school libraries are without librarians or aides, denying tens of thousands of students regular access to nearly $100 million worth of books, according to district data.” [1]

Read more about the effects of cuts in districts large and small.


[1]  Watanabe, Teresa. 2014. Los Angeles Times (February 23). <http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-lausd-libraries-20140224-story.html#page=1>  (accessed May 22, 2014).