I read with interest the front page article (1.23.02) pertaining to Berkeley school libraries. As a BUSD Library Media Teacher, I feel a few points need to be added.
Berkeley is home to a world class research library. It can also boast a public library system which enjoys the highest use of any library system serving a community of similar size in the state and has for years.
Furthermore, it receives a higher level of public support than most public libraries anywhere.
One would think that in a community such as ours, a vibrant school library program would be in place.
Sadly, this is not the case.The library media technicians in our elementary schools do wonderful work under difficult circumstances, but they are not librarians.
The research referred to in the article states: [Students who score higher on] "tests tend to come from schools which have more library resource staff and more books, periodicals and videos, and where the instructional role of the teacher-librarian and involvement in cooperative program planning and teaching is more prominent."
The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement.
Shelf talks of cutting library budget. This conclusion from the Colorado study has been replicated in at least three other states. What is most crucial to point out is that they hold true regardless of socioeconomic status and parental level of education.
In Berkeley we are forever obsessing (and rightly so) about the achievement gap. We have in our own backyard a powerful means to address it, we need only to recognize that fact and act on it.
At a time when our school district is potentially facing huge budget cuts, let us remember that the school library is a classroom--the most expensive and potentially the most powerful. Staffed by a Library Media Teacher who collaborates with other teachers, our libraries have the potential to level the playing field for all students.
The research is there. Lets not cut here, let's build.
M.L.King Middle School