Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, January 30, 2020

Some thoughts on the Importance of Libraries with Librarians
in the Public School System
(Written by fellow Germantown Unitarian congregant Walter Ceglowski* at request of, and shared by Barbara McDowell Dowdall with Philadelphia Board of Education and Superintendent Hite at Action Meeting, Jan.30, 2020)

     “I believe that an actively supported and staffed library is a crucial component in the process of appropriately educating our youth to prepare them adequately for the current and future demands of a globally competitive technologically competent world. My own early experience with a public school library began over 50 years ago.  In those days, my library consisted of shelf on shelf of books, and a very educated librarian.  The books were a wondrous source of pictures, stories and information.  The librarian skillfully guided my interests and helped me to utilize the full extent of the resources available at that time.  In large part my early experiences in my school library helped to stimulate and guide me in the acquisition of information and knowledge for the rest of my life.

Today’s school libraries should provide the wide array of contemporary information services available today. The evolution of the school library and school librarians has been extraordinary. The explosive increase in information available on the internet and the proliferation of sites containing information can be overwhelming — and some may be inaccurate or even misleading.  This indicates, in addition to the physical plant, that highly competent, educated and motivated librarians are the most crucial component of the contemporary public school education process.  The education, training and experience of contemporary librarians are integral components of any effective teaching and learning in today’s schools.

My understanding is that library services in the Philadelphia public school system have been woefully under-supported – even eliminated!  In my view, the absence of library services represents a form of theft–theft of opportunities for Philadelphia youth, theft of their opportunities for personal growth, theft of grounding for good employment opportunities. Support for restoration and implementation of necessary library services is essential.”

Board members and Dr. Hite missed hearing powerful messages at last week’s Rally for School Librarians. How puzzling that neither Cheltenham, Lower Merion, Radnor, Council Rock school districts, nor Pennsylvania prisons have relinquished their professionally-staffed libraries.
*Walt Ceglowski:  Professor Emeritus from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Retired). Age 87. 5 years donor, with wife Carol Ceglowski, Clinical Data Analyst with the R.W. Johnson PharmaceuticalResearch Institute (Retired, Age 85) of magazines at the Unitarian Society of Germantown for School District of Philadelphia schools without librarians.