Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ontario School Board Cutbacks and School Libraries

Library at the De La Salle College of Saint Be...Image via WikipediaOntario school libraries appear to be an easy target for school board cutbacks; unfortunate in many ways, but especially in lower-income areas where access to computers and the Internet at home is not a given. And the decision to target school libraries becomes even more bizarre in light of the provinces EQAO testing...so how are these grade 3 and 6 students to get the supplementary readings, books, etc to help with their classroom work?!

Things are getting drastic in some boards. Last spring the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board laid off all but four of its library technicians and dismantled all its libraries. It's goal was to divvy up the library books in its elementary schools and distribute them to individual classrooms instead. Of course, teachers have plenty of time on their hands to pursue collection development and management to ensure their collections remain fresh and relevant...

A recent study by the parent-led non-profit group People for Education found that 56 per cent of elementary schools in the province have a teacher-librarian, down from about 80 per cent 10 years ago. And to make matters worse for students, hundreds of municipal libraries across the province are also facing some major cutbacks.

The above study seems to contradict the government's position on school libraries. A 2008 news release, More Library Staff For Ontario Students, stated that "Ontario will provide school boards across the province with an additional $40 million over the next four years to hire about 160 more library staff." 4 years, eh, that means the 160 extra library staff hiring proposal will be complete come 2012...so, what happened in Windsor-Essex? Is the People for Education report working with very incorrect data?

It's all a little confusing, but one thing is sure, school libraries are not doing well.