Restore Librarians to DC Schools
  • Petitioned Council Member McDuffie

This petition was delivered to:

DC City Council Member
Council Member McDuffie
DC City Council Member
Council member Alexander
DC City Council Member
Council Member Bowser
DC City Council Member
Council Member Cheh
DC City Council Member
Council Member Graham
Executive Office of the Mayor
Josephine Robinson
DC City Council Member
Council Member Grosso
DC City Council Member
Jack Evans
DCPS Chancellor
Kaya Henderson
DC Mayor
Vincent Gray
DC City Council Chairman
Phil Mendelson
DC City Council Member
Tommy Wells
DC City Council Member
David Catania
DC City Council Member
Marion Barry

Restore Librarians to DC Schools

    1. Bella Dinh-Zarr
    2. Petition by

      Bella Dinh-Zarr

      Washington, DC

My son Kai attends our neighborhood elementary school and loves his librarian, who always had wonderful literacy activities to foster a love of reading. Thanks to her and the excellent teachers, our struggling urban school raised its reading scores by 14% last year! 

So I was shocked to hear that our beloved librarian had been let go, due to "budget cuts" in a time when DCPS has the most lavish budget ever and central office is the largest ever.   In fact, 57 schools and 16,600 students in DC have had no librarian. And now, with the Chancellor's new budget, 61% of schools will have a part-time or no librarian at all.  According to an independent City Council analysis, the DC Public School system has enough in its $800 Million budget to fund a librarian and top-notch library materials for all of its schools ($23M). But despite the claims by Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson that they want to improve literacy and reading proficiency (outlined in their new five-year plan), they have ignored education research and protests by concerned parents.

My husband and I, along with hundreds of others in D.C., are fighting hard to Save School Librarians. Librarians from all over have joined us - including Kamaria Hatcher, a librarian in Maryland, who helped us start this petition.  

Recently, City Council Member Jack Evans introduced a bill that requires a librarian in every school, causing  Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson  to ridicule parents' support of librarians as "hyperbole" becayse there is no "payoff" to librarians. We need your help! Tell Mayor Gray and Kaya Henderson that librarians are not optional and that we want our tax dollars to go to schools, not central office!

In light of the recent $417 Million surplus in the DC budget and an $800 Million Public School budget, we can afford $23 Million to have a librarian and top-notch materials in every school.  For the education of our children, we need a full-time librarian in every school, a per student allotment for library materials as in other school districts, and for librarians to be put back in the essential staff category.  

Please sign our petition and help us Save School Librarians! Thank you! - Bella

PS If you would like to help recruit more supporters with a paper petition or if you know of an organization or prominent individual who would write a letter, please contact me at - thank you.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 5,000 signatures
    2. Tell the Mayor to use some of $400 surplus for school libraries

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Dear Save School Librarians petition signers,

      Thank you very much for your support of our Save School Librarians efforts in DC. We started this fight for libraries many months ago and, thanks to your support and the School Libraries Task Force's hard work, the Chancellor has committed to a library and librarian in every school. But now we need the Chancellor to allot the funds to fulfill that promise. There is now a $400 Million budget surplus (a recently announced increase from the $140M surplus previously) in the city budget. Please tell the Mayor and Chancellor to use $40M of it for schools (instead of saving it for a "rainy day fund"):

      Mayor Vincent Gray

      Chancellor Kaya Henderson

      Thank you! Bella Dinh-Zarr

      More info:

    3. Library Task Force results are in!

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi everyone - sorry for the silence but there has been some progress on the libraries fight! As my 4 year old son (in Pre-Kindergarten now) says "It is not good to fight, except for libraries)! Here is the latest Washington Examiner article with a link to the Libraries Task Force.

      I will send out an email to everyone with a more detailed update soon. Thanks you for all your support and happy holidays, Bella

      Task force urges libraries for everyone |

      Kaya Henderson DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson may have thought stacking her task force on libraries with her own people would squash the hue and cry for a full-time librarian/media specialist in the city's traditional schools. She now knows she was wrong. Members, particularly those who receive paychecks from DCPS, demonstrated integrity and courage.

    4. Reached 3,000 signatures
    5. In case of confusion - protest was Oct 19.

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Dear Save School Librarians supporters,

      I hope you survived Hurricane Sandy without too many problems and, most importantly, that you and your family didn't suffer any injuries. We are thinking of those of you who have had tragedies or have had to leave your homes wherever you are.

      I am sending this email today (Nov 1st) because there seems to have been a mixup and the email that was supposed to be sent out 2 weeks ago was just sent out yesterday. is a wonderful organization but I am sure they were busy with election and hurricane notices! Normally, a late email would not be a problem except this one said that we are having a protest at the Mayor's office "this Friday". I didn't want anyone to show up expecting to see us this Friday when the protest occurred 2 Fridays ago! On Oct 19, we delivered messages to the Mayor's and Council Members' offices in support of school librarians.

      Thank you, as always, for your support. Sincerely, Bella Dinh-Zarr

    6. It's not true that we can't afford both teachers & librarians

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      We have heard from the Chancellor and some DC City Council Members that "if we require schools to have librarians, we will have to cut teachers." That is simply not true. DCPS an $800M budget and a large central office staff, not to mention DC's $140M budget surplus, so there is no reason that we cannot have both teachers and librarians. Librarians and top notch materials would only cost a maximum of $23M.

      If you haven't already done so, would you forward this petition to a few friends and also email the Mayor and Chancellor today to urge them to Save School Librarians and support the Jack Evans bill to require a librarian in every school?

      Email Mayor Gray, Chancellor Henderson, and the entire DC City Council at:,,,,

      Thank you, Bella

    7. Update on protest last Friday

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi everyone - thank you for all your support, in the many ways you have done it - emailing, tweeting, signing! We had a good turnout for the protest at the Mayor's Office last Friday, even in the rain! And 6 great kids (including my son Kai) went to the offices of DC Council Members and the Mayor to urge them to Save School Libraries.

      I also had the honor of speaking at the annual meeting for the terrific Friends of Chevy Chase DC Library this weekend! If you know of other Friends groups who would be willing to write a letter in support of Save School Libraries (Especially since the Chancellor has told me that schools can make do without a school librarian by just using public libraries! We need both!), please contact me.

      Thank you, Bella Dinh-Zarr

    8. I have been reading your comments - thank you

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi again everyone,

      .I just sent you a very long email asking you to email, call, and tweet to SAVE SCHOOL LIBRARIANS. But I neglected to say that I have been reading your comments and I am so moved by them - I hope you will share your compelling reasons why librarians are important when you communicate with the Mayor and Chancellor.

      Just in case, the emails for the Mayor, Chancellos, and City Council are:,,,,

      Please feel free to copy me on your email or tweet if you like (Email and Twitter @dinhzarr). I'd love to see what you send and just hear from you. And perhaps for those of you in DC, I will see you on Friday in front of the Mayor's Office for the protest - stop by anytime 9am-2pm!

      Thank you again for supporting this fight for the education of our children. Sincerely, Bella Dinh-Zarr

    9. If you want to call the Mayor and Chancellor...

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Call Mayor Gray and School Chancellor Henderson at:
      DC Mayor Vincent Gray (202) 727-6300
      DC School Chancellor Kaya Henderson (202) 535-1581


      I urge you to SAVE SCHOOL LIBRARIES. I support Council Member Evans’ bill to require a librarian in every school, but we can save school libraries TODAY if you will reprogram $23 Million to provide a librarian and good resources in every school. DCPS has an $800 Million budget and DC has a $140 Million surplus, so we can have librarians without sacrificing teachers or other necessities for schools. More than 3000 concerned citizens and I ( are urging you to Save School Libraries!

    10. Or TWEET...

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Or perhaps you would prefer to tweet...

      @mayorvincegray @hendersonkaya 3000 people @change say give $23M to #SaveSchoolLibraries and we support librarians bill by @JackEvansWard2!

      Thank you!

    11. How to Save Librarians in 5 minutes or less

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      I hope this doesn't sound too flippant, but it really only takes 5 minutes to do this.

      Would you take 5 minutes to help SAVE SCHOOL LIBRARIES in TODAY?

      Email Mayor Gray, Chancellor Henderson, and the entire DC City Council at:,,,,

      I urge you to SAVE SCHOOL LIBRARIES. I support Council Member Evans’ bill to require a librarian in every school, but we can save school libraries TODAY if you will reprogram $23 Million to provide a librarian and good resources in every school. DCPS has an $800 Million budget and DC has a $140 Million surplus, so we can have librarians without sacrificing teachers or other necessities for schools. More than 3000 concerned citizens and I ( are urging you to Save School Libraries!

    12. Mayor mocks us but we still reached 2500 signatures!

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      THANK YOU! Thanks to you, we reached our goal of 2500 signatures this weekend! Perhaps it is a huge leap, but do you think we can reach 5000 signatures now? DC Mayor Gray has mocked us publicly and says it is just "hyperbole" to say librarians are essential. Please help show he is wrong by asking your friends to sign our petition:

      If you live in DC, please contact your DC Council Member and tell him/her you support the Evans Bill to put a librarian in every school. Thank you to everyone who has already written to the DC City Council.

      By the way, Ms. Woodard, my son's former school librarian now "excessed" and no longer officially the librarian - on her own time - took students to the National Book Festival. Now that is dedication.

      All best, Bella

    13. Reached 2,500 signatures
    14. H St Festival event and City Council Member Evans bill

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi Everyone -

      Thanks to everyone who came out to the H Street Festival this weekend where we had over 2000 books and collected 601 handwritten signatures! Toki Underground restaurant (Chef Erik and everyone) and ANC Commissioner David Garber are true supporters of our Save Librarians effort!

      ALSO thanks to your support, we getting some political movement to save school librarians! DC Council Member Jack Evans (Ward 2) is proposing a bill which requires a librarian, art, and music teacher in every school (and we know there is money for it - it is just a matter of Chancellor Henderson's priorities!). See this Washington Post blog (Click on Community Activists to see the! And click on Adorable Kids to see my son Kai and his friends!):

      More soon! Cheers, Bella

    15. Book Exchange to Save School Librarians at H Street Festival!

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to ANC Commissioner David Garber and DC restaurant Toki Underground's community-minded owners, Save School Libraries has been GIVEN the expensive sidewalk space and the inside restaurant space to host a Free Book Exchange during the Sept 15 H Street Festival (12-6pm)!
      1234 H Street NE

      Please join us on Sept 15 and stay tuned on how you can donate books (if you live in the DC area) -- so that every kid in DC who wants a book can own a book on September 15! 

    16. Reached 2,000 signatures
    17. Chancellor Henderson still doesn't believe every school needs a librarian

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi Everyone,

      Thanks for all your amazing support of the Save School Librarians effort! We surpassed our 1500 goal. A group of parents and a school librarian met with Chancellor Henderson today and it was disappointing. She seemed impressed (and perhaps a bit surprised) when we presented her with a thick pile of signatures. The Chancellor told us that she did not think that a librarian was needed in every school (citing a few schools with good reading scores that preferred to use their librarian funding for something else) and her leadership style was to leave the decision to principals. I disagree. And I think you probably disagree, too. School librarians should NOT be discretionary! We urged her to put a librarian in every school before the start of this school year, but she only promised to start a library task force to study the situation. We have not given up. Please email me with your suggestions on how to fight! Thank you, Bella -

    18. WOW - We've reached 1500 signatures!

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi everyone - thanks so much for sending out this petition to your friends - thanks to you, in last 2 days, we quickly got to 1500 signatures which was our goal! We will present this along with over 500 handwritten signatures we have to the Chancellor this Thursday along with the demands in this letter. Thanks again and I will be back in touch soon! All best, Bella

    19. Reached 1,500 signatures
    20. Save Librarians Petition needs 100 more signatures!

      Bella Dinh-Zarr
      Petition Organizer

      Hi - Thanks for spreading the word about Saving School Librarians - thanks to you, we only need 50 more signatures to reach our goal of 1500 supporters! We also had some recent press in the DC Examiner and the Huffington Post (you'll see my son Kai again in the Huff Post article:).

      We meet with Chancellor Henderson on Thursday but will be sending all DC City Council Members and the Mayor this petition soon, so thank you again for your help. I know we can reach 1500 before Thursday! All best, Bella

    21. Reached 1,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Gabriela Allen HOUSTON, TX
      • 2 months ago

      I recently realized the importance of having a good librarian. My high school had a great librarian two years ago; she made sure people returned their books, gave recommendations, and - basically - got kids to read. However, last year, they got a new librarian and she was.. incompetent at best. She couldn't work the library's computer system, kept strange hours, and literally had no idea what to do with anything. I could see the affect that it had on the students; they didn't even bother going to the library. Neither did I, because whenever I tried to return books, the library was closed. Teachers may be the brain, heart, and lungs of a school, but I believe that libraries and the librarians are definitely the blood that makes the other organs' work worthwhile.

    • Audrey Mather NAPPANEE, IN
      • 3 months ago

      Librarians are essential to quality education!

    • faith Pinkos NORTON, MA
      • 5 months ago

      school library resources are a very important past of our childrens learning

      • 6 months ago

      The Library is an essential component of a good school. Librarians are the caretakers and professional stewards of the library. Lets bring em back.

    • erin talty SANTA CRUZ, CA
      • 7 months ago

      Books are an amazing gift to. Children and the fact that we are getting away from the book is not something i want to see. Books are a secret path into an amazingly different world, with each page chidren are sucked in without even realizing. He librians are who hold the keys to these woundelful adventures, they are the page masters and now its ae job to protect the stories of our world.


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