L.A. Unified seeks to implement accessible, “model” school libraries

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 10, 2017)  — The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution directing the Superintendent to prepare and present a report on the state of the District’s libraries. The resolution was introduced by Board Member Mónica Ratliff and co-sponsored by Board Members Dr. Ref Rodríguez and Scott M. Schmerelson.

The motion references the Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools, a guide developed by the State Board of Education for districts to implement strong school library programs. The Superintendent’s report will assess the District’s efforts and make recommendations for implementing the Model School Library Standards.

"Access to an appropriately staffed and well-stocked library is essential for all of our students," said Board Member Ratliff, an English language development teacher. “The District has spent millions to provide libraries at our school sites. To have libraries at middle school sites that are not actually accessible to students is outrageous. This report will allow us to determine the best steps to provide our students with equitable access to libraries and learning."  

A 2016 report by the California State Auditor found that school districts tend to offer fewer library services in elementary and middle schools than high schools. In 2014, the Board approved a resolution by Board Member Ratliff to establish a library task force, whose recommendations led to the staffing of all district elementary school libraries. For this report, the Board has specifically asked the Superintendent to assess the state of libraries in the middle grades and consider the possibility of centrally funding teacher-librarians for all district middle schools.

“I am fully supportive of the development of this report, so that we can all have a clear understanding of the District’s current state of school libraries,” said Board Member Dr. Rodríguez. “I am eager to see this data because our middle schools can seriously benefit from these additional resources, especially if we truly want them to have the research and literacy skills they need to be successful in high school and college.”                                                              

Board Member Schmerelson added, “It is important to provide all students with equitable access to school libraries and resources, as well as to recognize the involvement and contributions of career-oriented librarians and library aides when it comes to increasing student achievement.”

The Superintendent’s report on the district’s school libraries will be presented to the Board’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee on April 4, 2017.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766

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