7 stand-alone libraries in 214 Philly public schools; advocates aim to change that

Save School Librarians is pushing for every Philadelphia school to have a full library and paid librarian
Students in a school library.
Photo credit Wavebreakmedia/Getty images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The hit TV show "Abbott Elementary" may have put Philadelphia in the spotlight, but a group of school library advocates says all that glitters is not gold.

Those advocates are once again calling for libraries and librarians in all city public schools.

Studies have shown that children who have access to fully functional libraries perform better academically than those who don’t.

According to the group Save School Librarians, there are only seven stand-alone libraries of the 214 public schools in the city, and there are suspected to be just four librarians in the entire district.

“In elementary school, you’re getting kids excited about books and you’re introducing them to authors and you’re starting to get them to do research, but then in middle and high school it’s heavy on research," said retired librarian Deborah Grill with the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

She says this is one area where the children are losing, and getting children excited about a life-long journey of reading can be difficult when they don't have access.

“Pennsylvania requires prisons to have libraries. It requires barber schools to have libraries, requires technical sites to have libraries, but it doesn’t require libraries in public schools. It requires private schools to have libraries," Grill said.

Philadelphia has several in-class libraries, but she said those are completely inadequate.

"They just don’t offer the variety or the depth of information that would be offered in a school library, with the collection that would be available to the entire school at any time," she said.

She added that that some schools have volunteers running their current libraries, but she believes that's not enough for students' needs.

“They really need a professional in there to teach them the skills to curate the books to collect and build a collection that meets the needs of the student body as well as the teachers," Grill added.

A bill that would require a librarian in every school in the commonwealth was introduced in the Senate and House in 2019 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Advocates are having an open virtual meeting to discuss the matter on March 14.

For more from KYW Newsradio:
Download the Audacy App
Listen live
Listen on smart speakers

A new research center is being developed in North Philadelphia to help in the fight against racism.

Podcast Episode
Bridging Philly
$1.3 Million grant awarded to Temple University's New Center of Anti-racism Research
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing
Featured Image Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Getty images