With only 7 certified librarians in school district, Philly teachers demand more

Educators rallied on the steps of Philadelphia School District headquarters, calling on schools to restore librarians to schools.
Photo credit Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Educators rallied on the steps of Philadelphia School District headquarters Friday, calling on schools to restore librarians to schools.

Philadelphia has seven certified librarians for a district of more than 125,000 students, which Cathi Fuhrman, president of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, says is a dire figure.

"The ratio is worst in the nation of librarians to students," she said. 

Budget cuts have claimed many librarians' positions. State Rep. Tom Murt told a rally of more than 100 that the internet can't replace a certified librarian.

"Just because there's calculators, we don't do away with math teachers. Just because there's the internet, we should not be doing away with certified school librarians either," Murt said. 

Librarians rally at @PHLschools headquarters. There are only seven certified librarians in the entire district. The librarians back bills that would require a certified teacher librarian at every school. pic.twitter.com/xHq38pw63e

— Mike DeNardo (@_MikeDeNardo) January 24, 2020

Franklin Learning Center teacher Jessica Way said a school librarian can aid student performance by helping them separate fact from fiction.

"The problem is there's a lot of information on the internet. And you really need a guardian right now in these times to shepherd you through this huge, vast internet," Way said. 

The librarians back bills in the state House and Senate that would require a certified librarian in each school, without addressing how to pay for them.

In a statement, the district says they provide "independent and instructional books, media and technology throughout classrooms and school buildings to engage students throughout their daily learning experiences. In addition, all kindergarten through third grade classrooms have classroom libraries with age-appropriate reading materials, with all fourth and fifth grade classrooms gaining libraries by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Approximately 50 schools have libraries with catalog systems, and all schools have a subscription to PA Power Library, which makes libraries virtually accessible to all schools."