The Decline of School Libraries

On All Sides with Ann Fisher, on August 29, 2019, WOSU Radio presented a 45 minute discussion, now available as an archived podcast, called The Decline of School Libraries.

The participants included:

Liz Deskins, former school librarian for 30 years, adjunct professor at Kent State University;

Koby Levin, reporter, Chalkbeat Detroit; and

Mary Keeling, president of the American Association of School Librarians.

The conversation begins with an acknowledgement of the school library impact studies:

“Several studies suggest a link between school librarians and improved reading scores, even when accounting for differences in school funding and student income.”

That research is summarized, most recently, in a Phi Delta Kappan article–Why School Librarians Matter: What Years of Research Tell Us–co-authored by Debra E. Kachel of Antioch University Seattle and me.

The conversation continues, citing the major finding reported in my March 2018 School Library Journal article, School Librarian, Where Art Thou?

“One in five school librarian posts were eliminated between 2000 and 2016 across the country …”

Actually, that statement is imprecise. One in five school librarian full-time equivalents (FTEs) that were reported in 2000 were not reported in 2016. The number of actual positions lost–some of which may have been part-time–is unknown.

Koby Levin of Chalkbeat Detroit interviewed me for his recent article on this topic–Amid a literacy crisis, Michigan’s school librarians have all but disappeared–which appeared in both Chalkbeat and the Detroit Free Press.

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