The Effect of Funding Cuts to School Libraries
Johnny, an elementary student, was doing a school project
on helicopters. He went down to the library to see Miss A,
knowing she would help him find good websites for it. When
he got to the library, he found the door closed and Miss A
not in, because budget cuts had forced the school to close
the school library on Friday. Since Johnny's project was due
on Monday, he went home and googled "helicopters,"
but became hopelessly lost amongst the thousands of hits.
Finally, he copied and pasted material – only to be
accused of plagiarizing when he turned in his project. Johnny's
teacher librarian would have helped him find a few sites just
right for him, would have guided him in how to use the web
to glean essential information, and would have helped him
A GRADE-SIX STORY
Teacher-librarian Mr. L. was leading literature discussion
groups with grade six students when he noticed that one of
his usually quiet students was particularly engaged in the
conversations. After school, this boy returned to the library
to ask Mr. L. to recommend other books by the same author.
Mr. L. obliged and drew him into a discussion of why he liked
that particular author. Each week after that, the student
continued to drop into the library and check out the books
in the series. Soon thereafter, the boy’s mother visited
Mt. L. to say that until he’d encouraged her son, her
son had never voluntarily read a chapter book, but was now
an avid reader. “It’s because of the literature
studies in the school library,” she said.
A GRADE-FOUR GIRL’S STORY
A student working on a school project about dolphins thought
she’d found a great website, and was investing lots
of time gathering information from it, when her teacher-librarian
leaned over and pointed out she’d stumbled onto a science-fiction
site on the Dolphins of Pern, a series by author Anne McAffrey.
“Without the teacher-librarian, I would never have found
out. She taught me how to find out who is responsible for
information posted on websites, and also how to cite websites
Now in her early 20s, Tilda is a recovering drug addict and
street person. But she is considering entering nursing school
because she knows she can learn. When she looks back on her
troubled high school years, only one warm memory stands out:
hanging out in the school library, where she discovered a
love of reading.
“I would read quietly alone in the corner of the school
library. It was a safe and comfortable place,” she says.
Other than those moments, she was depressed, socially removed
from her East Side school, and busy moving between her mother’s
home on the East Side and father’s on the West Side.
She left school to spend time with a much older boyfriend,
and did a rough round on the streets with drugs.
What’s important to you about your school library?
Responses from grade 10 and 12 students:
the school library, I’m not sure how to go on the
internet for school projects.”
- “If there
was no school library, I would have to study in the cafeteria,
which is cold, or in front of my locker, which is not as
comfortable as the library. And I wouldn’t have access
- “I use
computers to do research during class and I use the printer
if my printer at home doesn’t work.”
- “I like
that there are resources all around me, whether they are
paper resources or the ‘Net.”
a school library, I couldn’t do some of my work, and
would have to sit on the floor.”
- ”If I
don’t have homework, it is a silent place for me to
- “I can
do research and I have learned how to use databases in the
- ”If there
was no school library, then I could only look for information
online, which is not as reliable as books.”
from School Children
Children’s Authors Rally Behind School Librarians...