By Theresa Harrington
Foothill Middle School librarian Diana Conner works three days a week at the Walnut Creek school and two days a week at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill. She works one more day at Foothill because the parents’ club there raised $17,000 to keep the library open for students all week.
A library aide staff the facility from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the days when Conner isn’t there.
“I only wish our state lawmakers held the same priorities as the people they represent and invested in our schools and our state’s future,” she said at a news conference in the library today.
Linda Mayo, vice president of the California state PTA and a Mt. Diablo school board trustee, said budget cuts have caused school libraries to close throughout the state.
“Many school libraries in California haven’t been as fortunate as Foothill Middle School,” she said.
Parent Rebecca D’Lima said Conner turned her son onto reading. Click here to see a video of her comments: Foothill Middle School
Other middle schools in the district must get by with librarians only two days a week, said librarian Jo Carson, who works at two middle schools two days a week each: Oak Grove Middle School in Concord and Pleasant Hill Middle School.
“The issue is equity,” she said. “This is the first year in my 15 years of working in libraries that we have had to ration our time.”
She said one teacher who wanted students to start a research project in February was not able to get time in the library until last week.
“I came to this profession because I love kids, schools and libraries,” she said. “But, right now, I’m concerned I am no longer having a measurable effect and that makes me very sad and very angry.”
In the Castro Valley Unifed School District, only one credentialed librarian remains — at the high school, said Phyllis Libbe, a library instructional assistant. All the elementary libraries are run by assistants, she said.
But library assistants do not have the same level of expertise as librarians, the speakers said. Librarians teach students how to find information and stock their facilities with books that support the curriculum, they said.
Chris Evans, a librarian at East Side Union High in San Jose, said his district has also drastically cut librarian hours.
“Our job is to help the teachers,” he said. “The library is everyone’s classroom.”
By Theresa Harrington