Philly’s War on School Libraries
In response to Stephen H. Segal’s editorial decrying the collapse of the library system in the Philadelphia School District:
Thank you. I’ve worked both with and without school librarians, and I can tell you that there is a big difference between a paraprofessional, a LIMA, an aide or an eager volunteer, and a trained professional librarian. This is not to demean the non-librarians who have helped out in the absence of the professionals, but librarians have extensive training in research that the general public lacks. With all the nonsense published on the web, it is more important than ever to have a professional guide students through all levels of library research.
This closing of libraries has been happening in Philadelphia for years. It is a shame no one seemed to notice until it happened to the top schools. All the students, especially in the schools that are in struggling, need libraries! Those that have not been closed have librarians who are being used as prep teachers, and it is impossible to run a good library program, where the library is open to all students and librarians can collaborate with teachers, in this case: When a librarian is a prep teacher, she can only work with the seven classes she is assigned to see each day. Often that leaves some students without access to the library.
Bravo! Eloquent, pithy, punchy and really balanced sentiment about the insanity that confronts not just our students, but our city and region. “Suicidal war” pretty much sums things up. Thank you so much for writing this gem.
Bryan Karl Lothrop
I fully agree with the assertion that civilization needs libraries. To add, I argue that colleges must have libraries consistently available for students. I was shocked when the Community College of Philadelphia made the decision to close the library entirely over weekends. I now need to guide my students to other campus libraries if they wish to go to a library on a Saturday, which is often the only time they may do so. It’s just appalling.