Tag Archive: Library


“We had a room with some books but nobody ever went in there.” This is a quote from Alan Cohen, P.S. 69’s principal. Imagine being a student in NYC and not having access to a proper library? Many students in low income communities face this issue daily. Rooms that are dedicated to being libraries, are often  found bare and deserted due to low or no funding and lack of materials- mainly books. With the economy tumbling and still uncertain, many budgets for NYC public schools have put Libraries at the bottom of the list. It seems there just isn’t enough money to support a program that is so essential to students.

There may be hope! A foundation known as the Robin Hood Foundation is looking to change the direction and image of many poverty stricken NYC public schools. The foundation over the past nine years has been:

 “dedicated to fighting poverty in New York City, and the city’s schools administration have built, with the help of private donors, libraries in 62 schools in low-income neighborhoods.”

The Foundation has had such success that many of the libraries that have been built in these schools have been adorned by murals from famous artists. These libraries and pictures have transformed schools that once seemed headed in a one way direction with the students having no choice but to follow the same dooming direction.

Another example of this transformation is Public School 47, located in the Soundview section of the Bronx. The school is in need of space. So much so that the gym has been transformed into classrooms and administrative offices have been created from bathrooms. Yet with the help of the Robin Hood Foundation, the school now seems to have a promising future- thanks to the addition of the new library located on the second floor. The room is described as expanding in a somewhat magical way. Above all, the new library (home to roughly 7,000 books) is the first “proper” library that the school has had in many years. All thanks to the Robin Hood Foundation.

Please visit their site to learn more information about how their program works and how their efforts have helped to keep literature within the NYC public school system. Foundations such as this one and books such as A Very Smart Cat/ Una Gata Muy Inteligente, My Brain Won’t Float Away/ Mi Cerebro no Va a Salir Flotando, and A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z) aim to improve and inspire reading among young students and children.

Remember a long time a go when you spent the day at the library learning how to find books and getting aquatinted with the card catalog system? There was a time when the one computer in the library was used to find books and to locate useful resources for a book report or for that big science project you had to do. Then came the Internet and it made its way into the library system. First it was a great way to see what other libraries had and a way for librarians to keep tabs on new books and where to send people if they needed a specific book. So for a while the librarian needed to know basic computer skills and how to read the card system. Welcome to the new library age.

Librarians face a new job. On top of their traditional roles, many are required to help students use computers aside from finding books. Powerpoint presentations fill the classrooms as students are well versed in the computer world, therefore librarians spend a lot of their time showing students how to use the information they have gathered as part of their presentations. Other programs that are used on a normal basis include word ( a typing program) as well as the Internet itself.

For new students, the Internet is a house-hold name, but many many do not have access to a computer or have never ventured into the digital world. Here the librarian must be well versed in the language of Google and similar search engines so they can help that 3rd grader find resources outside of the library for their book report. Many books on the shelves have outdated material or not enough material, so going online helps expands on resources. Librarians around the nation and around the world are 

“part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them on a daily basis. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books.”

The Internet is like an ocean- if you don’t know how to search properly, you can drown in the abundance of useful and not-so-useful material. Knowing how to navigate these waters is a critical skill that goes beyond the classroom and is used everyday- including at work. Knowing this, librarians, like teachers make up lesson plans to help students better understand how to use the Internet in a way that will get them the information that thy are looking for and how to pick out information that is false or irrelevant. Far gone are the days of “just re-shelving a book,” as stated by Ms. Rosalia, the school librarian at Public School 225, a combined elementary and middle school in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The responsibilities of  the new digital librarian parallel that of many school teachers.

Yet with the economy the way that it is and with the tendency of schools to cut back, librarians are one of the first to be cut out of the school system.

“Mesa, the largest school district in Arizona, began phasing out certified librarians from most of its schools last year. In Spokane, Wash., the school district cut back the hours of its librarians in 2007, prompting an outcry among local parents. More than 90 percent of American public schools have libraries, according to federal statistics, but less than two-thirds employ full-time certified librarians.”

Parents, teachers, school administrators are all well aware that librarians are a crucial part to the educational system. However a non-certified librarian in the end cost less. More and more schools are cutting back. That means that a certified librarians are becoming rare at an alarming rate. 

The Internet is part of everyday life. If you step into a classroom, whether elementary or college level, many teachers use the Internet as an aid in the classroom. Not having these skills can impair a students chance of excelling or getting the job they want.

Librarians are faced with a new challenge in this digital age. Is it as important to be certified or knowing how to harness the powers of the computer? Schools are meant to educate. Teachers are certified in order to provide the best quality of that education. A school can not function properly without the right resources. Cutting back on these resources such as knowledgeable librarians can have serious implications to the students. How does a school rightfully decide to cut back on librarians, when now more than ever, they go beyond indexing books and keeping the shelves tidy?

Watch the NY Times video related to the article quoted in this blog!

Since 1989, the Barahona Center for the Study of Books in Spanish for Children and Adolescents has been working to promote the Latino culture and its people.  The center was established by Dr. Isabel Schon and hopes to answer one of many questions including:

How do we motivate reluctant and struggling Spanish-speaking and Latino children and adolescents to become readers?”

Editorial Campana and Campanita (publisher of My Brain Won’t Float Away/Mi cerebro no va a salir flotando) are also promoting Latino culture and its people. There is a great need for reading material that caters to the many Hispanics living in the United States. Yet aside from libraries and schools, there is still more English literature readily available when you walk into a book store. Making sure that children and adolescents have access to books not only gives them the opportunity to read and learn, but can help them stay out of trouble and encourages positive behavior. Editorial Campana publishes literature in English and Spanish written by Latin@s that dare to challenge the literary canon, conventional social thinking, and that believe in culture as patrimony for everyone. The Barahona Center targets children and adolescents and strives to accomplish the following:

You can read the full article here

The Barahona Center and Editorial Campana are two examples of how we need to make sure that Latino’s have access to reading materials- especially literature that Latinos can relate to.