In November, a Community Study Group was organized in Oakland to examine the role of the school library in today’s technological world. The culminating event of this effort was the January “Imagining A New Future for School Libraries Tour.” On the tour they visited three Oakland Unified School District libraries: One with a strong, professionally staffed, fully-integrated library program (PTA funded), one with a minimal K-5 library in a K-8 school, and one newly renovated with great potential but closed, waiting for staffing.
These three libraries highlight the vast inequity of library services across OUSD schools. According to OUSD data, over 10,000 K-12 students in OUSD have no school library. Another third of the libraries are severely understaffed. At the same time, according to the 2013 STAR, only 38 percent of OUSD 3rd graders are reading at or above grade level. Continue reading