Testimony of Barbara Dowdall to the Board of Education, September 20, 2018

School Libraries with Librarians

I realized — in composing these remarks — that my audience members differ in the chronology of their arrival to positions of authority in the School District of Philadelphia: Dr. Hite on June 29, 2012; SRC Chair now President Joyce Wilkerson on November 17, 2016; and the current board on July 1, 2018 with their first public meeting on July 9th. Despite this particular difference of experience, everyone, without exception, has heard me speak on the importance of “professionally-staffed and fully-resourced school libraries.” Besides their value as …

a place of refuge (Sharon Olds “Mrs. Krikorian” https://armenian-poetry.blogspot.com/2006/11/sharon-olds-mrs-krikorian.html )

a rich and reliable resource to undergird and enhance curriculum (https://appsphilly.net/barbara-mcdowell-dowdall-testimony-transcript-for-the-src-meeting-of-july-6-2017/

a connection to an entire world of imagination and possibility that youngsters will more likely to seek out if guaranteed the treasure first in school https://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2018/sep/06/neil-gaiman-and-chris-riddell-on-why-we-need-libraries-an-essay-in-pictures

and even (!) a support for improved test scores in struggling schools http://www.ischoolguide.com/articles/32724/20151106/scholastic-study-school-librarian-naep-reading-scores.htm

…what else can there be to say? Perhaps this: if every Philadelphia public school, K-12, still had its library– resourced, organized and maintained by a Certified Teacher Librarian– then the vagaries of Free Library hours in poor neighborhoods would not be the tragedy described today on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Broke in Philadelphia: Where incomes, library hours are limited.” TyLisa C. Johnson

As the daughter of a longtime FLP branch librarian, a board member of Friends of the Free Library, the close acquaintance of an author of a Pew study on the importance of reliable library hours (http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/free-library-of-philadelphia-branches-hours-closures-20180919.html ), I would encourage folks to attend the Friends “Fully Fund the Library:” Fund Our Libraries: Northwest Philly Community Meeting, Monday, October 1st at 6 PM, Lovett Memorial Library. But for restoration of the precious and essential resource of professionally-staffed, fully resourced school (not just classroom) libraries, it is up to you, our locally-empowered, Philadelphia Board of Education. Students, parents, staff and community members look to you with hope in our hearts.