School District No. 48 teacher-librarians and school libraries across Canada will be sponsoring various activities on Oct. 27, 2003, to celebrate the first national School Library Day declared by National Librarian and renowned author Roch Carrier.
In spite of this day of celebration, school libraries across Canada are facing oblivion. School libraries in School District No. 48 are no exception. Teacher-librarian time and library operating budgets have been slashed in most schools over the past two years. In fact, in the present school year, some school libraries have no operating budgets to purchase books, and teacher-librarian time has been cut so drastically in several schools that teacher-librarians are not able to deliver a library program that will positively impact student achievement.
Empirical evidence shows that a quality school library program has a very significant, positive impact on student achievement. Extensive research on the subject over the past few decades is presented in Ken Haycock's document The Crisis in Canada's School Libraries: The Case for Reform and Reinvestment (www.cla.ca/slip/final_haycock_report.pdf). The many studies all come to one conclusion: In schools where qualified teacher-librarians have a large amount of library time teaching information skills, and in schools where there is greater investment in books and other resources both for recreational reading and curriculum assignments, students are more information literate and more capable readers. In the independent Colorado Department of Education studies, research revealed that standardized test scores tend to be 15-20 per cent higher in schools with qualified teacher-librarians than those without.
Ironically, one of the goals of School District No. 48, according to its own locally developed accountability contract, is literacy. This accountability contract has been approved by our local school trustees and submitted to the Ministry of Education. While literacy is a very worthwhile district goal, the one area that can play a major role in improving literacy is being decimated. If the school districts goal to improve student literacy is sincere and genuine, it must find ways of improving the state of school libraries. Parents and others who support literacy are urged to lobby School District No. 48 school trustees, as well the provincial government by contacting your MLA, Ted Nebbeling, and Christy Clark, Minister of Education, to restore adequate funding for school libraries. Our students deserve better.
Howe Sound Teachers' Association President
Once again a good time was had by all at the very successful Used Book Sale held over the Thanksgiving weekend. Just over $3,000 in donations was taken in and hundreds of books went out in the arms of happy buyers. Spring Creek Community School received $2,000 to spend on new books for the school library, and $1,000 went towards the Whistler Public Library collection.