The Literary Crisis in Ontario Public School Libraries

I just watched this video and was shocked at the appalling state of Ontario public school libraries. We must take this seriously. One of the statistics is that the school budget at Ogden Public School in Thunder Bay, Ontario allocated a mere $1.27 for new books per student. That doesn’t go very far at all. The libraries shown have books that are more than 30 years old that are falling apart, which don’t recognize the multicultural communities and which don’t meet the needs of kids learning to speak English as a second language.

I have read in many newspaper articles and heard from many teachers that schools rely on fund raising activities to make up for the budget shortfall.  Maybe schools in wealthy communities have parents who are financially able to make up the shortfall, but is it fair that schools in economically challenged communities must “bake sale” their way out of the underfunding in schools?

You don’t need to simply trust this video and what Indigo is saying.  There are many studies out there which show how important school libraries are:

Haycock (2003, p. 19) found that the better funded a school library was, the higher the level of student academic achievement. Improved funding of school libraries means that students have access to library staff and to a larger and more varied collection of materials that is better suited to meet their needs.

According to SLIC, “Full time teacher-librarians are currently represented in only 2% of Ontario’s elementary schools. These real crisis level cuts to teacher-librarian positions throughout Canada have created concerns in three specific areas: curriculum-based inquiry, access to resources, and informed citizenry. “

I urge you to consider whether  the literacy of our youngest citizens, our future economy, is a cost to the taxpayer or an investment to the future economy of Canada.  Read the studies and see for yourself – providing literacy opportunities for youth is certainly a good investment in the economy since it helps youth to become aware, engaged, productive, and informed citizens of Canada and by extension  the global community.

Other Works Which May be of Interest:

Haycock, K. (2003). The crisis in Canada’s school libraries: The case for reform and reinvestment. Toronto: Association of Canadian Publishers.

Ontario School Library Association (2006). School libraries and student achievement in Ontario. Retrieved March 3, 2007 from http://www.accessola.com/osla/graphics/eqao_pfe_study_2006.pdf

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