Newspaper article The Canadian Press

School Librarians Bearing Brunt of Cuts to Education, Advocates Say: School Librarians Bearing Brunt of Cuts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

School Librarians Bearing Brunt of Cuts to Education, Advocates Say: School Librarians Bearing Brunt of Cuts

Article excerpt

HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia school board's proposal to cut all of its 41 librarians to balance its books highlights a larger trend at some Canadian schools as libraries become victims of continued budget cuts, a development that some argue is having an impact on the quality of children's education.

And with the amount of information students have at their disposal because of the Internet, librarians are needed now more than ever to help sort through the wealth of information, the executive director of a parent-led group in Ontario says.

"They are usually up on all the new technology, and not just that, they can also teach kids ... about how to use that technology," says Annie Kidder of People for Education.

Kidder says librarians can be vital in helping students exercise "good judgment about what's relevant, what's credible information, what's really part of the garbage that is out there."

She says librarians can also influence a child's interest in reading.

"It also has an effect on your life in terms of the quality of your life, the richness of your life and your access to knowledge, to imagination, to the world."

In the group's annual report last year, it says the number of elementary schools with teacher-librarians in Ontario dropped to 56 per cent in 2010-11, down from 80 per cent in 1997-98. It found that 66 per cent of secondary schools had teacher-librarians in 2010-11, down from 78 per cent in 2000-01.

The report says of those elementary schools in Ontario that had teacher-librarians in 2010-11, 80 per cent of them were part-time.

Linda Shantz-Keresztes, chairwoman of the school-library advisory committee of the Canadian Library Association, says librarians provide an essential service and parents should be aware of their vital role.

"I think they need to become informed about the importance of school libraries and certified teacher-librarians and support staff in ensuring that their students get the skills and the strategies to survive in the 21st century," she says.

In Nova Scotia, the provincial government stepped in last week to stop the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board from cutting its librarians. The government has appointed a senior Treasury Board adviser to begin a review of the board's budget before any final decisions are made.

The board wanted to cut all of its librarians as it struggles with a $6. …

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