Testimony to the BOE by Deborah Grill, March 25, 2021
Good evening. Last week, I listened to principal after principal plead for the support they need to ensure that their students succeed academically. They were asking you to provide each school with the staffing they need to meet the need of their students the academic goals set by the Board.
As countless studies have shown, school libraries and certified teacher librarians are also important resources that each school should have to ensure academic success especially in districts with a large number of students living in poverty. Classroom libraries cannot take the place of school libraries, to meet the needs of students from pre-K through grade12. They are not wide enough or deep enough—even for preschool students.
As a librarian at Roosevelt Middle school, I was able to a secure and maintain a large preschool collection for the children in the pre-K located in our building—a much wider collection than their classroom library. They loved coming to the library to listen to our students read the books to them one on one. It was a win-win situation. The preschool students loved being read to and our middle school students were able to hone their own reading skills in the process.
School libraries staffed by certified teacher librarians provide easy and equitable access to diverse collections of reading materials and online resources in a wide variety of disciplines, student interests and reading levels including those of pre-K children. With a certified school librarian to build and maintain the collection and teach students to access and navigate its resources a school library provides a strong guardrail.
Children’s reading skills improve when they have easy access to books that they enjoy. Their research skills improve if they have easy access to resources and training in their use. If you want to achieve your goal of every student reading on level by grade 4, and every student college and career ready, you need to invest in certified school librarians in school libraries.