As COVID-19 Budget Cuts Loom, Relevance of School Librarians Put to the Test

Colleague Debra E. Kachel and I are quoted in “As COVID-19 Budget Cuts Loom, Relevance of School Librarians Put to the Test,” a new article in EDUCATION WEEK, commenting on how the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact is deepening the already-dire school librarian crisis. Thanks to Cayla Bamberger of the Columbia Journalism School and colleagues for assembling a lot of substantial information and getting it published at a critical time.

Excerpts from the article:

“Each day, we kind of hold our breath,” said Debra Kachel, a researcher and advocate for the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association—a librarians’ group in a state where at least 20 districts have already proposed library cuts. “A lot of these districts are informing librarians that they will be furloughed.”

In the decade since the last recession, one in five full-time school librarian jobs were lost, according to national data analyzed by Keith Lance, a library researcher and consultant from the RSL Research Group. Districts serving high numbers of poor and minority students were particularly hard hit. Other educational positions rebounded when the economy recovered, but the ranks of school librarians did not.

“It’s difficult to be optimistic about how school libraries and librarians will fare in COVID-related budget cuts,” Lance wrote in an email.

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