Hundreds of school librarians and supporters call on the School District of Philadelphia and elected officials to improve school library programs for students by ensuring a certified school librarian in every Pennsylvania public school.
With fewer than eight school librarians supporting over 200,000 students in Philadelphia Public Schools, the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and EveryLibrary are holding a Rally to Restore School Librarians at the school board headquarters on Broad Street on Friday, Jan 24th at 12:30pm. Confirmed speakers are Rep. Tom Murt, Sen. Larry Farnese, Councilwomen Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks, representatives from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, as well as a SDP student.
The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and EveryLibrary, a non-profit, national political action committee for libraries, will hold a demonstration on Friday, January 24 beginning at 12:30pm in front of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) Administration Building, 440 N. Broad St., to call for the restoration of school librarian positions in Philadelphia city schools and in districts around the state.
In the 1990’s, SDP schools had 176 librarians; now there are fewer than 8 school librarians in the district for its more than 200,000 students and over 300 schools, making it the worst librarian to student ratio in the nation. Pennsylvania ranks as the 6th worst state for school librarian losses since 2009-2010. Only 30% of Pennsylvania school districts have full-time librarians in each of their buildings. And, sadly, the losses of school libraries and librarians are continuing across Pennsylvania in rural, suburban, and urban schools.
Yet, years of research have consistently shown a positive correlation between high quality school library programs and librarians and higher reading and writing test scores, including higher graduation rates. Across 34 states, including Pennsylvania, the studies also suggest that our most needy students who are academically at risk benefit more when they have access to a school library with a certified school librarian than all students in general. School librarians not only provide reading guidance and resources, they teach students to critically evaluate print and online information to sift fact from opinion. Information literacy and Internet safety are at the core of their work.
To ensure equitable library services for K-12 students, PSLA is working with state legislators to pass HB1355 and SB 752 that would ensure that every student has equal opportunities to learn, including provision of a quality school library guided by a certified, instructional school librarian
Cathi Fuhrman, President of PSLA states, “Effective school library programs with certified school librarians are instrumental in providing opportunities for our students to have the skills and abilities to be workforce and college ready. A school librarian reaches and teaches all students in a school, helping them navigate and interpret information while honing essential critical thinking skills. A K-12 student who knows and uses a school library will become an adult who knows how to find and use information to make responsible life choices to enhance their success as a global citizen. We need to ensure that all students have these opportunities to learn.”
For more information on the Rally to Restore Philadelphia School Librarians, please visit the event page here. This unique and targeted advocacy effort will bring together school librarians and other stakeholders to revitalize a shared goal about providing librarians and libraries in Philadelphia schools.