TO: School Boards and Superintendents across Pennslyvania who are considering cuts to their School Library Programs
We are writing on behalf of students everywhere to ask that you preserve your school library. We understand that there are significant budget challenges coming for your district. We know that there will be challenges in accommodating students' safety and social distancing during the pandemic. And we see first hand the difficulties parents and teachers will face with blended or distance learning.
Our request to you to preserve the school library program and to retain school librarians in their positions is because we know how effective they are in helping students learn, grow, and succeed. Especially in this trying time. A school library program is more important now because a school librarian helps other teachers teach, students learn, and families connect with instructional support. We stand with the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association in their recent position statement and are signing this Open Letter today to amplify their voice.
The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) Board of Directors, in alignment with the position of the American Association of School Librarians, believes that every student is entitled to an effective school library program, developed by a state-certified school librarian who is both a strategic school leader and teacher. When school district decision-makers choose to eliminate school library programs and certified school librarian positions, they deprive students of rich learning opportunities, jeopardize academic and reading
achievement, and perpetuate educational inequities.
Only when there is a trained and certified school librarian present are students taught essential inquiry and information literacy skills aligned to PA Core and Academic Standards, as outlined in the Pennsylvania Library Model Curriculum (PDE). Just as effective school library programs can address “summer slide” for students, certified school librarians will be able to continue to offer the resources and instructional strategies to bridge the gap that is anticipated with the COVID-19 Slide.
The challenges facing education in our districts and across Pennsylvania are significant. We can only face them - and help all our students succeed - by investing in programs and people who are proven effective. Study after study has consistently shown positive correlations between student achievement and high-quality library programs. Data from more than 34 statewide studies suggest that students tend to have better test scores in schools that have strong library programs. Strong school libraries are also linked to higher graduation rates and mastery of academic standards (see https://kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/). We echo PSLA and their school librarian members across the Commonwealth when we say "The school library, face-to-face or virtual, is the place in a school that impacts all students, in all grades, in all literacies across the curriculum."
Thank you for making the smart choice to keep your school library program open and staffed by certified school librarians.