It's Official: School Library Month Proclaimed in RI

RHODE ISLAND - APRIL 6, 2016 - Governor Gina Raimondo has proclaimed April as School Library Month, recognizing the contributions that school librarians make to their school communities, including:

  • Teaching students to become effective users of information and ideas
  • Providing access to print and online resources
  • Promoting competencies in new and developing technologies
  • Promoting literacy and the enjoyment of reading, viewing, and listening

Governor Raimondo’s formal commendation of the work that school librarians do complements the fact that in the past two years, seven districts have named librarians as their Teachers of the Year: Burrillville, Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Narragansett, Newport, and North Kingstown.

Research has shown a correlation between school library programs and student achievement. The most recent study results, released in 2015, link higher standardized test scores with fully staffed and well-funded libraries. As School Library Journal notes, “The links could not be explained away by demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and subsidized or free meals eligibility.” The Scholastic School Libraries Work! online publication compiles the results of several other studies.

Author Megan McDonald, the official spokesperson for School Library Month 2016, says: "I would not be who I am without the early impact of my school library and librarian. ... School librarians not only foster a lifelong love of reading and story, they encourage thinking and creativity. They support curious minds. They inspire young imaginations. School librarians shape lives."

Unfortunately, even if students, teachers, and administrators appreciate the value that school librarians offer, too many budgets and schedules do not allow for librarians to have the fullest impact possible on their schools. Last fall, School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI) collected details of budget and staffing cuts in 13 districts. Last month, an SLRI survey found that:

  • 18% of schools have no district book budget. Of those that do receive money from their districts, 25% received less this year than last. Only 5% had increased budgets.

  • 48% do not have access to enough devices for a full class of students. 9% are still not automated, which means that the catalog is not online and books are checked out using old-fashioned card systems.

  • 44% of verbatim comments mentioned lack of time as the biggest challenge to being a school librarian today. 52% have fixed schedules, leaving little time for collaboration with classroom teachers or enrichment classes. 46% of elementary librarians split their time between two or more schools, attempting to manage multiple collections without adequate time to do so.

“The benefits of school libraries eclipse picking out a good book or completing research projects,” says Sarah Hunicke of Portsmouth High School, SLRI president. “Time and again the research has shown that schools with effective library programs result in higher academic achievement, an added value that every school committee should recognize and support.”

About SLRI - - @SchLibRI

The purpose of School Librarians of Rhode Island shall be to (1) promote the improvement of instruction through opportunities that broaden the professional knowledge, understanding, and experience of its members; (2) provide leadership in defining, interpreting, and promoting effective library media programs to the community; and (3) serve as facilitator between the State Department of Education, Office of Library and Information Services, professional organizations, and the general public.                                                 

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