For the past 14 months we’ve been involved in a long and difficult battle with DCPS over school libraries and librarians. Thanks to your efforts we’ve made real progress in getting librarians back in the schools. Unfortunately we have to fight about a longer. The chancellor has said there will be a librarian in every school this fall. That promise, however, comes with a significant caveat. Schools with under 400 enrollment will only receive a part-time librarian, which is 61.4 percent of DCPS campuses. There is no money currently in the FY14 DCPS budget to buy books and other materials for the libraries. There is no plan in place to deal with the fact that Anacostia High School has no library book. That H.D. Woodson has only 400. That Dunbar and the new middle school at McKinley Tech will open with no new books. What the chancellor has offered relative to a spectacular degree of advocacy is pretty paltry.
Almost every school community is in a fight with DCPS over some aspect of the budget. But the library issue effects us all, either in staffing terms, the absence of resources or both. This effort desperately needs you to raise your voice yet again and tell our city’s elected leadership how critical you view school libraries to be.
—Every school, regardless of size, should have a full-time librarian.
—Funds need to be allocated so that schools get a yearly per-pupil allotment to buy books and other library materials. We recommend $25.
—All school libraries that are going through modernization must have an opening day library collection purchase for them. The size should be 20 volumes per student enrolled. That needs to begin immediately.
—All remaining high schools and middle schools should have their collections brought to that size as well.
—All schools, regardless of size should receive 30 magazine subscriptions.
—DCPS should buy 1,400 e-readers and assemble a 40,000 volume e-book collection.
—DCPS students should have access to at least 10 databases for research.
—And all schools should have at least 10 computers bought and available for student use in the library.
—All these things should be in place by the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year.