Charter school in New York kicks public schools kids out of their school library... Educators Need to Know More about Libraries: The Case of JHS 126
"There's this whole library full of new books bought for our school, and we can't even use it," (8th grader at JHS 126 in Brooklyn).
According to an article in the NY Daily News, middle school students in Brooklyn have lost nearly all access to their newly renovated school library. The library has been taken over by three charter schools that share the same building in exchange for some gymnasium space. The JHS 216 middle school students now have access to only half the original library space for only two hours per day. Library instruction, we are told, will be done in regular classrooms using laptops.
I suspect that those who made this decision are not aware of the extensive and convincing research showing the value of libraries and of access to books in general. Research shows that children become better readers by doing more self-selected reading (Krashen, 2004), and the library is a major source of books for children. The powerful role of the library has been confirmed in studies showing that library quality (number of books available or books per student) is related to reading achievement at the state level (Lance, 1994), national level (McQuillan, 1998), and international level (Elley, 1992; Krashen, Lee and McQuillan, 2008), even when researchers control for the effects of poverty.
For the middle-school children at JHS 126, the public library was not an option: One student pointed out that the area near the public library in her neighborhood was dangerous. For many children, especially those who live in high-poverty areas, the school library is the only place they will find reading material.
The three charters and JHS all lost out on this deal. JHS lost most of its access to its own school library, and the three charters are apparently not taking advantage of the library. The Daily News reports that the charters are not using the library as a library but for "planning, meeting and small classes."
Information on the powerful benefits of the school library needs to be better disseminated.
[Editor's Note: The librarian at JHS 216 has produced a You Tube video of how the library was renovated before it was taken away from the regular public schools students. That ten minute video is now available at http:// www. you tube.com/watch?v=-gJCdIx_n0U.]
Elley, W. 1992. How in the World do Children Read? Hamburg: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
Krashen, S., Lee, SY, McQuillan, J. 2008. Is the library important? Presented at the 37th annual meeting of the International Association of School Librarianship, Berkeley, CA.
Lance, K. 2004. The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. In Carol Kuhlthau (Ed.), School Library Media Annual. 188-197. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (For access to the many Lance studies done in individual states, as well as studies done by others at the state level, see http://www.davidvl.org/research.html).
Lazarowitz, E. 2009. Brooklyn middle school students squeezed out of study space by 3 charter schools sharing building. New York Daily News, October 6, 2009.
McQuillan, J. 1998. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims and Real Solutions. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
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