A recent report highlights an ongoing decline in the number of districts nationwide with school librarians. According to the findings, there were about 20% fewer librarians during the 2018–2019 school year in the 13,000 districts examined than a decade prior. But the absence of these educators isn’t equally distributed: Smaller, rural districts, and those with higher proportions of English-language learners, Latinx students, and low-income students were more likely to lack a librarian.
Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance write: “Most of us know there have been large losses of school librarians over the past two decades. What is less well known—and begs for attention—is that these losses pose a major educational equity issue. In our new study, we found that everyone isn’t losing their librarians; losses tend to occur in districts where there are more students living in poverty, more minority students, and more English-language learners. Districts with fewer such students are far more likely to have and maintain librarians. The other news is that, since 2015–2016, several states have begun to see net increases in their numbers of school librarians.”
School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? (2021). Seattle: Antioch University.
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