In Los Angeles, 87 Percent of Public School Libraries Lack a Librarian

The district employs 98 school librarians for 768 school libraries.

By Julianne Hing Jan 16, 2014

What’s a school library without a librarian? For many Los Angeles public school students, it’s a locked room they can’t enter. New figures reported by KPCC this morning show that nearly half of Los Angeles public school libraries have no trained staffers to run them, and 87 percent of school libraries lack a credentialed librarian.

KPCC reports:

In a district of 768 schools libraries, there are only 98 librarians to teach students how to find information, select a text or coordinate reading programs. Even adding library aides to the mix, 332 school libraries do not have staff.

Without librarians or library aides, many principals have been forced to keep libraries locked or run them illegally with parent volunteers or other school site staff. California law does not allow fill-ins for trained library staff.

The figures come on the heels of the district’s decision to double down on its investment in iPads–the district set aside another $115 million to expand its iPad initiative across the district. The initial iPad rollout has already cost $1 billion. Los Angeles isn’t alone in slashing its school libraries. In Philadelphia, the Bay Area, Oregon, Illinois and New York, when money gets tight–or priorities shift–school libraries are usually on the list of early eliminations.