The city’s school district has reduced the number of librarian posts impacted by layoffs from 11 to seven during the past week to alleviate fears that elementary school libraries are being shut down.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans highlighted the importance of having librarians in libraries during the most recent board of education meeting on Wednesday evening.
“It’s our intent to recall the librarians,” said Evans. “The libraries will be open. There was never an intent to close the libraries.”
A city school librarian said the district is engaging in sophistry by stating that libraries will not be closed when it lacks librarians to run them. “The room is still going to be there with books in it, but there’s not going to be a librarian to run it,” said the librarian who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation. “You can’t have a library without a librarian because kids will not be able to check out books.”
“It’s misleading teachers and parents by telling them the libraries are still going to be in existence”, said the librarian.
The librarian also took issue with the district’s assertion that teachers will be manning the libraries without librarian. “If you don’t have a librarian to run it a teacher has no idea how to check out a book – it’s a computerized system,” said the librarian.
Deputy superintendent Eileen Shafer said recalling as many librarians as possible is on the district’s “priority list.”
Evans said librarians teach and cultivate learning in a manner that many may not always understand. The librarians do not simply assist students in checking out books, said the librarian. They teach students to do research utilizing books and computers among other things, said the librarians.
The district has also been assigning librarians to teaching posts, said the librarian. Some librarians have decided to stay in the classroom assignment, said Terry Corallo, district spokeswoman. She said that’s what created a library vacancy at the Martin Luther King Jr. School.
Corallo said the district will be hiring a librarian for the school located on East 28th Street.
The librarian said the cuts in libraries are bound to negatively impact students at a time the district and other organizations have been pushing to get city students reading at grade level. The district balanced its budget earlier in the year by cutting 363 jobs which included 197 teachers among them librarians.