True Stories

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 avoid plagiarism.

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 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 as sources.”

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:

  • “Without 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 to computers.”
  • “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.”
  • “Without 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 read.”
  • “I can do research and I have learned how to use databases in the library.”
  • ”If there was no school library, then I could only look for information online, which is not as reliable as books.”

Letters from School Children

Children and Children’s Authors Rally Behind School Librarians...





...because student achievment is the bottom line...