Boston Public Schools – A School Library for Every Student
BPS assistant director of library services Felicia Humphries, Fenway librarian Bonnie McBride. and director of library services Liz Phipps
Dr. Carol Kuhlthau weighs in
Dr. Carol Kuhlthau is on the blog breaking down what’s exciting about about the recent investment in school libraries from Boston. The article in School Library Journal Boston’s Revolutionary Pledge: A School Library for Every Student by 2026 highlighted the exciting progress, a beacon of hope and leadership in school libraries worldwide.
Boston leaders understand the value of a school library program
BPS is making a large investment in school libraries to achieve the mission of equitable literacy in all schools and promising every Boston Public School access to a school library program by 2026. As Boston moves toward the mission of equity and literacy, they fully understand the value of a school library program in achieving this goal. This ambitious initiative provides the essential components, facility, collection, staff, and budget, underlying a school library program for impact and sustainability. Without investment in these essential components school library programs stumble along by fits and starts, but are certainly not equitable or sustainable.
What they get right!
Essentials Foundations for School Library Programs
A dedicated space is a necessity for a functioning school library program. Last year out of Boston’s 125 campuses only 52 schools had their own full-time library and staff. This year 25 new libraries were added. Funding was provided for new furniture (such as shelves, cabinets, tables, chairs, light, etc) to develop functioning library facility.
A collection of high-quality resources is essential for a school library program to support classroom learning and student engagement. New funding is being providing to buy books and technology to build a collection that is culturally affirming and complex across grades and content areas.
Most important and essential for a school library program is fully certified librarians in each school library. Professional librarians play a crucial role in classroom learning. This year 30 new librarians are funded by BPS for ongoing sustainability. Funding is also provided for new hires that are working toward certification. Professional staff is essential for teaching information literacy and research skills and to develop discerning users of information with agency to choose what they want to read and learn about.
New staff is budgeted by BPS for continued funding to ensure the stability of professional librarian’s positions that is essential for the school library program.
These components are the foundation for providing equitable literacy through the school library. The mission of the school library program is to develop information literacy and research skills and discerning users of information with agency to choose what they want to read and learn about that is realized through Guided Inquiry Design.
Distinguished Prof. Emerita, Rutgers University
Extending onto this post – their further mission with regards to GID
A cornerstone to Boston’s vision for the library program is equity in use of the Guided Inquiry Design framework. Boston has been committed to providing the GID training to all librarians. Once all the foundational pieces are in place, librarians can begin with the highest level of inquiry and instruction available. As of January 2023, all veteran BPS librarians have taken the GID Institute with a collaborating teacher or team and implemented GID in their schools. The plan moving forward is to provide training to all new librarians once the foundation is set.