Earlier today, Channel 2 WCBS-TV broadcast a 1-minute-56-second report about P.S. 9's (and M.S. 571's) new library. The story focused on the current lack of a librarian to staff it. WCBS included comments on the situation from the principal, from a D.O.E. representative, and from the library steering committee's chairwoman Rebecca Shulman Herz:
“It’s tragic that the schools can put this much effort into something that's clearly endorsed by the City and still not have the funds to open it up to the students properly,” said parent Rebecca Schulman[sic] Herz.
Parents said they’ve worked too hard to let this book hive go unused. The school’s principal was trying to find the money for a part-time librarian and then volunteers would round out the edges. “I have a little plan. That’s all I can do, get a little action plan in place and try to get someone in for our youngsters,” said principal Sandra D’Avilar.
Until then, the book hive is a bare hive.
The Department of Education had planned to hire a librarian when the school first began building the new library, but have since implemented a hiring freeze. The DOE said they should fill the position soon because enrollment at P.S. 9 will increase this year, allowing them a larger budget.
The D.O.E. statement about filling the position refers to the money that travels to a school for each student it enrolls. Rising enrollment will bring P.S. 9 $200,000 beyond its original budget, Principal D'Avilar said at the P.T.O. meeting on October 12. But that may not help the school get a librarian—that evening, she added that she already had committed that money to hiring another 5th grade teacher, special needs aides, and upgrading technology for the building.
Might P.S. 9 find volunteer retired librarians, or library students, to run the library this year? The obstacle is that D.O.E. requires any library with a DESTINY electronic checkout system to use a certified school librarian, in case the librarian sees a student's electronic records. Using a paper-only checkout system is probably just a theoretical solution, as it would require lots of volunteer labor to run.
We'll let parents know if there's anything they can do to help, beyond fundraising enough to free up funds for a librarian. (That's around $50,000.)
For anyone who's not yet seen the attractive new space, the WCBS report does include a few brief glimpses. But better to stop by yourself at Wednesday evening's open house, 5-8 p.m.-Matt Fleischer-Black and Christine Scanlon