The transcript of Barbara Dowdall’s testimony before the November 16th SRC.

Barbara Dowdall SRC 11-19-15


Barbara McDowell Dowdall  English/Academic Department Head (Retired)

Asa Philip Randolph Career Tech High School

I come before you today to acknowledge a clear success by this body and your lead administrator: You have convinced me beyond the slightest doubt that there will never be a restoration of school libraries with certified school librarians — a resource without a doubt to be found in virtually every suburban and private school in the nation — as long as public schools in Philadelphia remain under your power. No amount of exhaustive research that confirms the value of professionally-staffed and fully-resourced school libraries cited by me and my colleagues over these almost 16 years has moved the needle or the heart of those in charge. Petitions signed by students at Randolph Career Academy {another temporary name change} went unanswered. Sadness in the eyes of elementary school students (Randolph’s future scholars) locked out of their school library havens went unnoticed. Frustration of middle and high school students who could no longer wander among shelves offering windows into myriad topics and points of view held no ice with the solid ice of the SRC’s collective mien.

Substantial and replicated research confirms that staff and students, multi-disciplinary curricula and even test scores will benefit with the restoration of school libraries with certified teacher librarians — assuming our goal is not to match our schools with the poorest of schools in other cities, nor to justify future closures by citing previous closures, nor to offer the disingenuous [bordering on preposterous] claim that principals do not want them.

Our only hope is that future School District of Philadelphia governing bodies, locally selected or even better, locally elected, will open their hearts and minds to the value of a library in every school (happily supplemented by classroom libraries and enhanced, not replaced by a robust city library system).

So with keen disappointment in the state’s decade-and-a-half costly (on so many levels) experiment with our schools, I will accept back from you the books I offered as seed volumes for a restored A. Philip Randolph Career Tech High School library, and will hold them close until the happy day when that dream (actual necessity) is restored by those in power who will follow you. Black Scholar: Horace Mann Bond, 1904-1972  by Wayne J. Urban*

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, 1991 Philadelphia public school graduate                                                                                            Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery
Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer, editors

Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters: I Must Resist
Foreword by Julian Bond
Edited by Michael G Long

*Signed by his son, Julian Bond, on his last visit to Philadelphia before his passing.

When the books have been located, simply notify me by email,, and I will come and pick them up. No need to spend money on postage. You may be able to find all the cited research on school libraries in your (7) copies of my remarks over the years. Would you like me to re-gather the information and bring it to you?