City Schools Are Quietly Using Fewer Librarians / Officials Estimate More Than Half of High Schools Violate State Regulations

Source: Lisa Fleisher, Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2013
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A difficult new chapter is under way for librarians in New York City public schools. Officials estimate more than half of the city’s high schools are in violation of state regulations that require schools to employ either part-time or full-time librarians, depending on enrollment. Now, the Department of Education is preparing to ask the state to waive those requirements, arguing city schools can provide adequate library services even if there isn’t a librarian in every school. New York would be the first district in the state to receive such a waiver, state officials said….

…There are 333 certified librarians on staff in the city’s 1,700 schools—down from 399 four years ago—and not all of them are working as librarians. City officials say advancements in technology, shifts in teaching practices and the addition of classroom libraries have made librarians not as necessary as they once were. And as the city creates smaller schools, a full-time librarian becomes harder to justify….

…Librarians said teachers are frequently busy teaching content and don’t always have the skills to impart research skills. Ms. O’Connell said she tests her students’ skepticism by showing them a website about a fictional animal called a tree octopus. Many students believed the creature exists. She said she teaches them to think critically….