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.


3. Northern cities like New York

4. Other countries (New Zealand):

Recently published 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/