Posted on behalf of CWILL BC and the BC Coalition for School Libraries (BCCSL)
As B.C. school boards review budgets for the next year, school children and children’s authors across British Columbia have rallied to send a message to them: “Don’t cut school librarians or school library hours any further!”
Asked by B.C. children’s authors to write letters to school boards, school children from kindergarten through high school responded.
“We do not have enough time in the school library,” wrote Hannah, a seventh grader from Delta. “Only twice a week is outrageous!”
The children’s letters are being sent to school board members and principals around the province by the BC Coalition for School Libraries (BCCSL). The letters were solicited by the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC (CWILL BC), with 150 members.
The number of teacher-librarians has dropped 20 per cent since 2002, leaving only 18 percent of school libraries with a full-time teacher-librarian, according to the BCCSL. B.C. school libraries are receiving less than half the funding recommended by the Canadian Association for School Libraries; some receive none. Money to buy books and electronic information has dwindled.
“This, despite research that demonstrates a clear link between well-funded, well-staffed school libraries and literacy,” says Mary Locke, a member of the BCCSL. “It’s past time to draw a line in the sand. If everyone says they’re concerned about literacy, why has the rug been pulled out from under school libraries? School libraries should be the No. 1 literacy project.”
“I am ten years old and our school library has helped me in amazing ways,” grade-five Vancouver student Imara wrote. “If you cut the salaries of our librarians and reduce spending money for libraries, all the information and learning that kids like me get will be much worse quality.”
“Please don’t take away my school librarian!” wrote eight-year-old Aly. “When I need a book to help me with my homework or research, she will know where to find the book.”
“I would go to the school library every day if I could,” wrote Ayano, age eleven. “I would be nothing if there were no libraries.”
“Children’s authors have seen first-hand what cuts to school libraries have done in recent years,” says Pam Withers, a young-adult author and president of CWILL BC. “So we decided to be proactive in soliciting these letters, which are still coming in. We were overwhelmed by the heartfelt messages, the crayoned drawings and the timely response of children across the province.”
CWILL BC also worked with the BCCSL in collecting stories of what reduced school library hours have done to kids, posted with the children’s letters on www.bccsl.ca.