By Debbie Hall
I just sent out 14 emails to all the School Board candidates to update them and also Juliet Stipeche. We have also sent it to the current Board members.
I have a new a new mantra. If we are concerned about reading, we need to be talking about libraries.
Dear School Board Candidates, current School Board members, and Judith Stipeche:
I just put together some more statistics on HISD libraries that you might find useful. If we are concerned about reading, we need to be talking about libraries. You should find two attachments that contain this data.
(1) Library Staff Comparisons by Board Member Districts Fall 2019 - This table compares staffing numbers by area district. This allows you to compare your area (4) with the other board districts.
(2) 2019 High Schools Staffing - College readiness is one of the district's most important goals. The current staffing in high school libraries puts meeting this goal in question. Almost half of HISD’s high schools do not offer library services on campus. Just this week, we learned that Austin High School's library was converted to a classroom. Sadly, there are many other high schools that are failing to support students’ learning by providing access to a library on their campus. We ask you to question the current trend in establishing a Learning Commons and how it is being implemented in some HISD schools. Replacing a library with a Learning Commons is a loss, not a gain, when access to services and materials is lost in the process. The idea of providing a collaborative space has always been a part of a solid library program. This is not a new idea, but it is a new name (Learning Commons). Several of the newer schools have incorporated the Learning Commons idea into their design. Schools like DeBakey and Kinder HSPVA provide both traditional library services and collaborative spaces to the benefit of their students. However, other newly rebuilt schools like Wisdom, HSLECJ, and Lamar have eliminated access to programming, materials, and instruction via a campus library.
The numbers in these documents are based on staffing data available at the beginning of the current school year. It is our sincere hope that some of these vacancies have been filled but based on the evidence of the last few years we believe that relatively few of the schools will elect to fill their library positions. Library services will continue to be available for some, but not for all, until the school board and the administration recognizes the negative effects stemming from not setting a standard for library service across the district.
We are excited to begin this new chapter of our advocacy efforts. This SNL blog will support our SNL mission by addressing topics that improve understanding of school libraries and their certified staff as influencers of improving student achievement. The blog is one more tool in our toolkit to further influence stakeholders and allies to speak up often in support of student access to fully staffed and fully stocked school libraries on every HISD campus.
In case you missed the Mission on the front page of the website:
Every HISD student deserves a full-time certified school librarian and a fully stocked library. The mission of Students Need Libraries in HISD is to make this happen by persistently providing information to the HISD School Board, HISD librarians and their stakeholders: students, parents, community residents as well as campus and district personnel.
We have a list of topics already in mind, but will always take suggestions. We also hope to invite a variety of guest authors from the SNL membership to join the effort. It definitely takes a village to keep a project like this moving forward. Please be in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.