Jackson Street School parents and guardians: Bring professional librarians back to Northampton elementary schools


Published: 12/18/2018 9:09:08 AM
Bring professional librarians back to Northampton elementary schools

We are writing to voice support for Northampton bringing professional librarians back to the four elementary schools in the Northampton Public School district. The ESPs who work in the elementary school libraries are superheroes who manage entire libraries without professional library training, with small book budgets and with nearly nonexistent program budgets. To whatever degree these libraries meet the needs of the students, it is thanks to them. A professional librarian, however, would have the knowledge and training to keep the collection current, to be familiar with the technologies and research training children now need and to fill the holes that have developed since the 2002 Massachusetts state budget cuts removed elementary school librarians.

Studies have shown that school library programs that have a certified school librarian, and adequate funding for current books and technology not only engage students in reading but also improve student achievement and lifelong learning. In addition, school librarians are trained to address the information literacy standards in the Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science framework. The 2018 “Massachusetts School Library Study: Equity and Access for Students in the Commonwealth” report produced by the Special School Library Commission states that “access to library instruction and help ensures that a . . . library collection is well used to promote 21st century teaching and learning. Without . . . professional librarians who collaborate with teachers to deliver information and technology education, access is denied to the Commonwealth’s students and educators.”

The report’s number one recommendation is to improve access to school libraries and school librarians by ensuring every public school has a school library and certified school librarian. In the 2016-2017 school year, the elementary schools shared two librarians between the four schools, but the positions were then de-funded. We are writing to ask that the school committee and the City of Northampton prioritize adequate staffing of the school libraries in all of the Northampton elementary schools by bringing back full-time elementary school librarians so that every child in the city has a professional school librarian teaching them and putting books in their hands every week.

Written on behalf of the following Jackson Street School parents and guardians: Leah Berkowitz-Gosselin, Mike Brezsnyak, Summer Cable, Christopher Chamberland, Gavin J. Grant, Alana Kaczmarek, Jenna Lanterman, Annabel Link, Kelly Link, Patricia Loomis, Ashley Miller, Johanna Radding, Jess Saalfield, July Siebecker


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