As residents of South Kingstown and parents of students in the South Kingstown public schools, we have recently become aware of the plan to severely cut our existing School Library programs by staff reduction. This will result in partially vacant libraries (no longer accessible to our students) and severely impacted library media specialist schedules, to the point where the quality of the existing program will be greatly compromised.
Our Library Media Specialists foster love of the written word, guiding individual students to books that will spark enthusiasm for reading. Further, our Library Media Specialists are actively involved in teaching technology skills, which include computer applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, keyboarding, Glogster, blogs, wikis, and much more. Especially critical now are internet search skills, website evaluation and internet safety, more broadly described as information literacy. Since the Library Media Specialists see every student in every school, Kindergarten through fifth grade, on a weekly basis, and also teach media literacy classes in middle school, our Media Specialists are the best way to provide consistent programming across all the grade levels in our schools in technology and information literacy. Without systematic instruction in these areas, students are not guaranteed to graduate with the skills they need to negotiate this information-driven world. These skills are absolutely essential to the success of our students. We want a strong network of school libraries in South Kingstown.
We are also aware that several years ago, the School Libraries lost their clerks/aides. This already severely eroded the quality of the library program. To make further cuts would degrade the quality of the Library program to a degree that is not acceptable. We know that schools with Full-time Librarians produce students who perform better on tests (http://www.slj.com/2013/03/research/librarian-required-a-new-study-shows-that-a-full-time-school-librarian-makes-a-critical-difference-in-boosting-student-achievement/), and more importantly, in life. While we don’t currently have full-time librarians, that is perhaps a discussion for the future. More immediately, we are expressing our strong objection to these proposed cuts. We do not want any further reduction in our School Library programs.
As taxpayers, voters and citizens of South Kingstown, we are strongly urging the SK School Committee and SK School Department to reverse these proposed cuts, and leave the existing librarian staff levels as they are currently (school year 2012-2013).