The letter notes that classroom teachers and librarians work together to incorporate learning and research skills into the curriculum, and school librarians help students learn how to use technology to gather information effectively and make informed decisions—information literacy skills that are vital in today’s digital world.
“School librarians are there to guide students through the Information Age, and these things don’t come naturally,” Everhart said in an interview with eSchool News. “Kids know how to use Google, but do they know how to use the information they get back from Google?”
School librarians collaborate with educators, help to evaluate learning and teaching resources, and “teach 21st-century skills that students need in order to go out into the workplace,” she added.
If the district’s budget cuts are deep, some librarians might be transferred to classroom teaching positions after proving they are qualified to teach in a classroom. But as the Los Angeles Times reported, LAUSD approves such transfers only if the employee in question has taught students for the past five years. This rule pits the school district’s attorneys against librarians who say they teach many students and many topics every day.
For more school library news, see:
School libraries pummeled as budget crisis worsens
School libraries key in teaching information skills
ALA issues guidance on showing video content in classrooms
Rethinking research in the Google era
The situation in Los Angeles has garnered national attention, but it’s emblematic of what AASL calls a national trend: School media specialist positions are being deemed expendable as districts continue to grapple with budget shortfalls.
On an advocacy page of its website, AASL has created a Google Maps depiction of communities across the U.S. that have eliminated certified school librarian positions or that require one school librarian to serve two or more schools throughout the week.
In Los Angeles, education advocates have protested the threat of severe cuts to the district’s budget.