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April 2011 Vol. 18. No. 5 Focus on Speaking Out, Not Dropping Out

Activism around the city

Association petitions District for more certified librarians

By by Michele Aweeky on Apr 1, 2011 01:44 PM
Photo: Harvey Finkle

Carol Heinsdorf waits her turn to testify for improved libraries at a March SRC meeting.

The Association of Philadelphia School Librarians (APSL) wants more quality library programs in Philadelphia schools and has presented the District with a "School Library Reform Proposal" that outlines requirements they say are essential to bridging the achievement gap for the city's low-income students.

The main component is putting a certified librarian in each District school.

At the School Reform Commission's March 9 meeting, APSL President Carol Heinsdorf recited evidence of a decline in library resources: With a 60 percent decrease in certified librarians since 1991, only 65 are in place this year, leaving three-fourths of the city's schools without adequate library instruction and resources.

"Two years ago I stood here and wanted librarians for everything. That was just too big. [So now,] we're focusing on getting librarians in the new and existing Promise Academies that don't have them," Heinsdorf said.

APSL's proposal also calls on the District to maintain the 65 current librarians, work to provide targeted funding for adequate library resources, implement flexible scheduling for student library visitation, promote co-taught library instruction with classroom teachers, and provide a minimum of 30 books per student and 30 computers.

APSL has signed on 18 endorsing community organizations, including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, who believe that certified librarians will improve students' academic performance.

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