HOOT! Service Scarce at Philly School Libraries

“Cuts at libraries mean Philadelphia students could have nothing” RRXLIBRARY18C

The Philadelphia Inquirer Monday, January 26, 2009

Kristen A. Graham writes about the decline of the Philadelphia school libraries under the subhead “With city cuts, students will have few resources.” The possibility of the city closing 11 branches is only an excuse to write about the terrible state our city’s school libraries are in-and have been in for over a decade and a half.

The story is well-researched, and well-deserved, as the article describes the importance of libraries to many inner city kids. Graham uses many startling statistics in the article and interviews a wide range of people. From students who use their school libraries to librarians to Mayor Nutter’s education secretary, Graham incorporates many different voices in the article.

Through numbers Graham is able to show the reader the decline of the city school libraries in the most concrete way possible. Readers respond to numbers in the form of simple statistics-it’s an effective way to show the reader what you’re trying to convey without using graphics or a chart.

By talking to several different types of people, Graham is able to show several sides of the story. The reader learns how librarians feel, the way students use the libraries-and even what the principals are trying to do to make up for the fact that their schools don’t have libraries. Graham explains that it is the principal’s choice whether to maintain a library or not. She then goes on to clarify where the money could go if a principal decides not to keep a library at his or her school.

Grade: A-
Nice work, Kristen.

Redux: “Cuts at libraries mean Philadelphia students could have nothing”

This story sheds light on the dire situation facing Philadelphia’s school libraries.  The status of the city’s public libraries has recently come into question, citing budget cuts by Mayor Nutter, but school libraries have been in bad shape for years.  More than half of the city’s schools do not have librarians or even working libraries; there are now only 77 librarians for over 200 schools.  Lori Shorr, the mayor’s education secretary, said that the city library director and the school superintendent have been in discussion about sharing resources to help students, and that so far, things have been positive.  She declined to give specifics.

I feel that this story is well written and encompasses a variety of perspectives regarding this very serious issue.  Libraries seem to be a dispensable part of a school’s budget, but that compounded with the possible closing of 11 public libraries, leaves students in a dangerous position.  Kristen A. Graham, an Inquirer staff writer, spoke to students, school librarians, and advocates to balance the “official” positions, in order to better express how this situation is affecting the broader community.  Shrinking budgets for the school district and the city’s public libraries can be attributed to the city’s shrinking budget as a whole, probably due to the nationwide economic downturn.  But Graham does not just focus on how this became a problem and why it is so important to improve the state of libraries across the city, she also seeks to uncover what officials are doing to fix this problem.

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