Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, January 17, 2019

 History of School Libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians

I regret to say here, in the new year, where tradition insists that hope for all things good and true should be re-invigorated, that my hope — extended to this body at your first public meeting, and six years into the superintendency of Dr. Hite, and restated in September, particularly in regard to restoration of (fully-resourced, professionally-staffed with Certified Teacher Librarians) our school libraries—that hope seems increasingly without merit.

At every brightly-lighted, media-celebrated, SDP board member-, staff- and elected official-attended opening of a begged-for, materials-donated, and volunteer-staffed library space in a school (most recently at Bache*), my heart cries out for the 190-some schools –including

those I attended: Fitler, Roosevelt and Girls’ High;

those where I taught – (library and/or school itself shuttered or reconfigured): Vaux, Girls’ High — again!, William Penn, Germantown, Lankenau, Benjamin Rush, Dobbins and Randolph;

those in my neighborhood: John B. Kelly and Fitler — again;

and schools attended by my great nieces and goddaughters: C. W. Henry) – and all the other schools that still go without.

And where can we find schools that do have authentic, professionally-staffed libraries?

  1. Schools attended by our current and immediate past mayors:
    St. Joe’s Prep
  2. The school attended by children of current Board of Education members: Penn Alexander
  3. Schools with carefully selected students and/or millionaire alumni: Masterman  and Central.
  4. And who speaks for a system-wide publicly-funded provision of this resource?

1. An elected school board member in Los Angeles:

Where Do I Stand? A Statement by Board Member Scott Schmerelson on Day 3 of the Teacher Work Stoppage

I also agree that we need to work much harder to provide more support staff at all our schools. As a retired principal, I can tell you that our parents do not understand, nor should they, why many of our schools only have a nurse one day a week. We absolutely need more social workers, librarians and college counselors. How can we constantly talk about 100% graduation, and our students being college prepared, if our secondary students do not have adequate and easy access to a college counselor?

2. Southern states like South Carolina

South Carolina requires every public school to have at least one school librarian with an MLIS degree.

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/01/15/usc-library-scholar-program-value-school-librarians/

3. Northern cities like New York
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/roundtable/stripling.pdf

4. Other countries (New Zealand):
https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/understanding-school-libraries/why-school-libraries-matter

Recently published research:
https://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/

6. And my dentist. When I told her about the disappearance of school libraries in Philadelphia public schools, she was incredulous. “No libraries? That’s like saying you can do without food!”
* https://6abc.com/archive/9288476/
*https://thenotebook.org/articles/2019/01/15/opinion-all-schools-and-all-students-need-libraries/

bmcdowdall@gmail.com