According to Union Township Education Association (UTEA) President Ann-Margaret Shannon, last year Union’s ten schools had eight media specialists. This school began with four media specialists. Two positions are currently being filled, which will bring the total to six media specialists for the district. It is unclear how the media specialists will be distributed amongst the schools once the new librarians are hired.
“On behalf of the membership of New Jersey Library Association,” Tumulty continued, “we are concerned about making sure that there are school media positions in every school in the district. Through their educational training, school media specialists receive graduate level training in literature, research, and technology skills essential in the 21stCentury learning environment. No other faculty member is so uniquely qualified to ensure that a student has the literacy background and research skills to succeed in the increasing competitive global educational environment that all students must face.”
Tumulty said every school should have a media specialist to assist students and faculty, and that requiring media specialists to divide their time between schools often jeopardizes the quality of instruction they can provide students.
Beth Thomas, Vice President of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, read a letter on behalf of the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians.
The letter, in part, said, “we are aware that the Township of Union Public Schools face budget challenges, but we also recognize that the solutions to those challenges is rooted in evidence-based practice.”
Thomas said studies show that student achievement is higher, from grades and test scores to digital proficiency and graduation rates, in schools with a professionally staffed school library.
“School librarians are the heart of their school and essential to their district’s goals.”
“I’m urging you to reinstate the partial school library media specialists positions in your district with full-time, certified media specialists,” said New Jersey Association of School Librarians, Christina Cucci. “Every one of your school libraries is essential to meeting your mission and goals, to following your district policies and to comply with state regulations.”