Re "Some libraries too quiet," Feb. 24
Imagine a city where at every school there is a fully staffed library bustling with students throughout the day. Imagine even extending the school library's hours so students, staff and parents can make use of it beyond the school day.
Monica Ratliff, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education, is correct to lead an exploration of what has happened to L.A.'s school libraries. At the same time, our statewide elected officials should do the same. A commitment by the state to properly staff libraries could make these resources the intellectual hubs of schools across California.
I am sure this would have a direct, positive impact on student achievement.
The writer is an elementary school principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Reading increases learning in all areas of one's life. It's criminal to have the library doors locked at many L.A. Unified schools.
When my school district considered closing libraries to save money, I presented to the board how much the district had invested in each library. That got the board members to sit up straight and take notes. A lot of money and potential is being lost if L.A. Unified keeps the doors shut.
As a librarian, I don't just check in and check out books. I can take that reluctant reader, second-language learner or high-level reader and determine exactly what book will benefit that person's life. Books can expand someone's thinking or widen a narrow mind. Sometimes, the reader doesn't even know it's happening.
Books are vital. There is no excuse for depriving students of them.
When I was teaching, I had four bookcases full of material. Aside from their library books, the students were encouraged to take home and read from my classroom library books (purchased by me).
Their homework included 20 minutes of reading. I also read aloud daily after lunch, a popular activity.
I've followed L.A. Unified's controversial purchase of Apple iPads when some schools are in disrepair and lack nurses, custodians, psychologists, librarians and now libraries altogether.
I am happy to be retired and not to be subjected to the wayward priorities of the school district.
As a retired librarian, I feel there are a few things the public must know about school libraries.
First, the lack of funding is not just a local issue. The American Library Assn. has been advocating for access to school libraries for years. It's a national crisis.
Second, school libraries should be staffed by credentialed teacher-librarians, not just library aides. Teacher-librarians select resources to support the curriculum and teach students how to use the library effectively.
Third, where there are no school libraries, the local public library must fill in the gaps. Public libraries serve readers of all ages and not just K-12 students.
At budget time, librarians must decide what portion of the funds available will buy materials for adults, and what to spend on children and young adults. In contrast, would a children's librarian spend more money on biographies of historical figures or on books read for pleasure?