School library advocates nationwide urged to oppose elimination of teacher-librarian positions

Contact: Melissa B. Jones
AASL Communications Specialist

For Immediate Release,
April 21, 2008

School library advocates nationwide urged to oppose elimination of teacher-librarian positions

–Mesa, Ariz.,
public schools' has announced the decision to remove teacher-librarians from 87
schools. School library media specialists and advocates of school libraries
across the country are joining together to decry the elimination of every
teacher-librarian over a three-year period. The Mesa public school system is the largest in
the state, with almost 74,000 students.

The position were
eliminated primarily because of a deficit of more than $20 million—caused by
declining student enrollment and a state budget deficit of $1.2 billion. American
Association of School Librarians (AASL) president Sara Kelly Johns said,
"It's very sad that the students of Mesa
will be left behind the rest of the country in their literacy, research and
critical-thinking skills through the elimination of certified school
librarians. In a time of tight dollars for school districts, school library
media specialists are truly a bargain. Twenty state studies have shown that
there is a connection between certified school librarians and student
achievement, certainly a concern in Mesa
as well as all school districts."

Currently, each
school is staffed with a full-time certified teacher-librarian and a full-time
aide. Based on school size, the cuts would staff the school libraries with a
full-time resource center specialist and a classified media aide. Smaller
schools will be equipped with only a resource center specialist. All certified
teacher-librarians will be moved into full-time teaching positions.

School library
media specialists are trained in 21st-century literacy and
technology skills that prepare students to learn, work and live in an
increasingly information-based society. Because the No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLB) does not address the direct correlation between school library media
specialists and academic achievement, school library budgets that are not
protected on the state level are being cut increasingly to meet local budget

In this new
information age, often referred to as the Google Generation, research strongly
suggests that school library media specialists have a central role in the wise
use of information and technology to promote learning. The elimination of
teacher-librarians seems to be a trend in states where school budget cuts force
drastic measures, such as staff reduction and the elimination of critical
programming. AASL urges school library media specialists, parents,
administrators and friends of school libraries to advocate for school library
media programs in a student's achievement and learning process.

librarians are technology and literacy coaches, select the best books to entice
students to read and to support the curriculum and empower their students to be
critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers and ethical users
of information. The decision by the Mesa Governing Board to 'save money' by
eliminating school library positions needs to be reconsidered," Johns

Advocates for
school library media programs in the public school system are encouraged to
show their support of school library media specialists and their support staff
to the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board by e-mailing them. The e-mail
addresses of the governing board members can be found at

The American
Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American
Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library
media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening
the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate
change and develop leaders in the school library media field.