Betsy Combier, Editor
There is currently a lot of movement within the Department of Education to push and support school libraries to play a major role in linking information literacy with the curriculum and common core standards to accelerate student achievement. It is in this context, the principal made the very unfortunate and ill-advised decision to close the library. At a time when our students need more literacy, more information literacy instruction, not less, the closure of our school library makes this a sad school year for our students, our staff, our parents, and our community. It is of utmost importance and urgency for the PS 197M family and learning community to take up the conversation about the re-opening of our school library before the end of the year 2012.
UPDATE ON THE LIBRARY UFT GRIEVANCE
In the spirit of transparency, I just want to update you on the state of the grievance against the closing of the library this school year 2012-2013. Both decisions at Step 1 with the principal and Step 2 with the hearing officer representing the superintendent and the principal alleged that the Union failed to prove any contractual violations. They, therefore, stated that the library was closed for budget reasons. With that, we can say that this year proves to be a very, very sad year for our students, our staff, our parents, and our community. All the work we’ve done with the support of the PS 197M family was done on the basis of our deep-seated belief that our students deserve a school library that is up-to-date at all levels.
I picked up a dilapidating library 16 years ago that was closed for two years prior after the death of our beloved, Ms. Anna B. Hildebrand, the oldest colleague in our school back then. She managed this library with a lot of grace and the students responded to her with grace. After her death in 1994, the library was practically closed. People scattered books all over the place, on tables, and on the floor. This state of affairs concerned me very much. In June 1996, two years later, I requested to come and revamp the school library as a Teacher-assigned. My request granted, I immediately started going to countless hours of workshops on running the library.
I taught hundreds of students in the library and manually circulated books without an automation system. Then feeling that our students deserved more quality library instruction, in 1998, I enrolled in the Masters degree Program for Library Science at Queens College for three years. In 2001, upon receiving my degree and certification in School Library Media, the principal then, Ms. Sandridge, appointed me in place in September 2001. This was a major victory for our students and the school community because very few elementary school libraries had licensed, and certified school librarians.
For years also, I ran an early morning library club where students came to the library before school and started to read in the library. I ran Storytelling contests where our winners went on borough and citywide Storytelling contests and brought back trophies. The library played a leading role in advancing reading achievement throughout the school when the Renaissance program first started here at PS 197M. My leadership was significant in the systematic implementation of the principles of the program.
Our big break came in 2008 when I wrote a grant that brought $200,000 to the school for the renovation of our school library. With the completion of renovation in the 2009-2010 school year, our students and school community scored another major victory.
As a result of my activism in school library world throughout the city, our school was selected as one of 50 schools to participate in a Pilot Program with the New York Public Library as a Partnership between the New York City Department of Education Library Services and the New York Public Library. The Pilot Program offered our teachers an opportunity to check out book sets to support the curriculum and instruction in the classroom. All staff members and all students were provided with special New York Public Library Cards with special privileges. At first, NYPL shared its automation program with Pilot schools. Ultimately, after I made a request for a possible new automation system, NYPL said they were going to look into that. They did and offered to provide PS 197M with a new automation system, Destiny, for the school library as a Pilot School for free with a subscription value of $7,500 a year.
In addition to the spectacular improvement of the physical infrastructure of the library, my leadership empowered and inspired our students to do an extensive amount of reading and writing in the library. I have also shared a dynamic proposal with the current principal on moving forward with the library program. It outlined the next level, namely, a high level of collaboration between classroom teachers and me to integrate information literacy in the school wide curriculum and classroom instruction.
There is currently a lot of movement within the Department of Education to push and support school libraries to play a major role in linking information literacy with the curriculum and common core standards to accelerate student achievement. It is in this context, the principal made the very unfortunate and ill-advised decision to close the library. This unjustifiable decision takes us eighteen (18) years backwards when our students had no access to their school library and the books and resources of the library laid to waste. That decision to close our school library is a major setback and a major defeat for our students’ academic, intellectual, social and cultural needs and achievement historically at PS 197M. At a time when our students need more literacy, more information literacy instruction, not less, the closure of our school library makes this a sad school year for our students, our staff, our parents, and our community. It is of utmost importance and urgency for the PS 197M family and learning community to take up the conversation about the re-opening of our school library before the end of the year 2012.
In Solidarity & Struggle for our Students’ Education and Achievement,
Antoine Bogard, Library Media Specialist, MLS
& UFT Chapter Leader
The UFT, NYSUT and the DOE defamed Chris Asch, Library Specialist at Stuyvesant High School when they allowed former principal Stanley Teitel to lie about Chris at his 3020-a arbitration, to remove him from his job and close part of the Stuyvesant High School library.
Christopher Asch, Tenured NYC Board of Education Employee, Wins In the Supreme Court His Petition To Vacate The 3020-a Arbitration Decision