School librarians will ask SRC for more support

Carol Heinsdorf, President of the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians, will be testifying to the School Reform Commission next Wednesday, making the case for library programming to be managed by certified librarians in new and existing Promise Academies.

Heinsdorf and other supporters have been working on the project since last August, and have been rallying the troops to get involved in pushing the district to hire more certified librarians.

Supt. Arlene Ackerman's "Imagine 2014" plan lists "libraries in all high schools" as a contributing factor to student success, Heinsdorf said. However, she added there are currently only 65 certified librarians in the entire 257-school district. Thirty-one high schools have certified librarians, while thirty do not.

Of the 15 current and slated Promise Academies, only five have certified school librarians, she said. They are: Potter-Thomas, Clemente Middle School, Germantown High, South Philadelphia High and University City High. Those without are: Alcorn, Pennell, Smith, W.D. Kelley, Ethel Allen, Dunbar, FitzSimons High, Sayre High, West Philadelphia High and Vaux High.

Studies have shown that students with access to libraries typically show significant improvement in reading, spelling, math and problem-solving. And school library programming managed by a certified school librarian increases test scores among low income students.

"The School District of Philadelphia is facing a budget shortfall," she said. "Quality school library programs are an excellent return on investment."

For instance, she said that $80,000 invested in the library at Clemente Middle School over nine years resulted in $463,000 of use by students in the ninth year.

District officials said they've pushed for libraries and have advocated for strong libraries programs in all schools. Since Ackerman's arrival, they've filled school libraries with content media specialists, which critics say is not enough.

The next School Reform Commission meeting is scheduled for 2p. in the second floor auditorium of district headquarters, 440 N. Broad Street.