Springfield Elementary Schools Must Manage without Librarians
Public elementary schools in Springfield, Illinois, are finding that it’s tricky letting students have access to library collections when there’s no one there to check books out for them. The positions for all elementary-school librarians and library assistants were eliminated last spring as part of a $10-million budget cut made by the Springfield School Board. High-school and most middle-school librarian positions were untouched, according to the September 30 Springfield State Journal-Register.
A few schools in the district rely on parent volunteers to let students check out books. Others allow students in for reading but have stopped circulating the collection. Still others have designated the library off-limits to students but let teachers check out books for classroom purposes only.
The situation was made worse by heavy cuts in the district’s information-and-technology office. Some technicians who updated and produced student-user bar codes lost their jobs, leaving no one with the necessary know-how to update electronic checkout systems.
McClernand School, located in one of the lowest-income areas in the district, had to shut its library down altogether. “It’s unfair, a real disservice to the kids who need it the most,” principal Kamina Hunter said.
At Butler Elementary School, three former librarians (who are now classroom teachers) have lobbied to keep the library closed to students until volunteers can be trained. “We need someone in there who would know exactly what to do,” Marsha Matzke said in the Journal-Register. “It’s more than just signing cards. It’s all automated. Someone has to be there consistently all the time who is very, very responsible.”
Posted Octoer 7, 2002.