April 29, 2010, (Ottawa, ON) – The Canadian Library Association (CLA) and its school library division, the Canadian Association for School Libraries (CASL), has expressed dismay and alarm at the erosion of funding for education in British Columbia. This erosion is pushing districts into making cutbacks to personnel and programs to balance their budgets, resulting in the elimination of professional teacher-librarians in many schools in British Columbia. Teacher-librarians are those professional teachers who teach curriculum based information literacy skills to students at the elementary and secondary level.
Linda Shantz-Keresztes, President of CASL asks, “How can basic literacies and the essential new literacies of our digital world be achieved without qualified teacher-librarians in BC schools?”
Studies across North America for the last fifteen years have consistently demonstrated that students in schools with effective school library programs supported by teacher-librarians experience greater academic success than those in schools with no such programs and professional teaching.
In 2008 the Minister of Education in British Columbia stated at the Pan Canadian Literacy Forum in Vancouver that: “I am personally proud that British Columbia is the lead jurisdiction for literacy in our country.”
Parents in BC have to ask some hard questions. Do they want to abandon libraries and literacy programs in public schools, or do they urge the British Columbia government to recognize the importance of literacy education, school libraries and the essential role of teacher librarians in preparing B.C. students to be lifelong learners.
John Teskey, President of the CLA, urges the BC government to reconsider these cutbacks and to fund school library programs and hire qualified teacher librarians.