[library-media] Provo School Libraries

Susan Huff susan.huff@jordan.k12.ut.us
Mon, 20 Mar 2006 14:48:47 -0700

Ann Tidwell's message brought back some painful memories for me of the time 
when Jordan School District did the same thing to their Library Media 
Specialists.  I walked in the school and one of the teachers said, "I saw in 
the Tribune that you lost your job!"  I went to the library and looked in 
the Tribune and sure enough, there was the article.  Our district librarian 
was conveniently out of town.  The other question all of you displaced Provo 
librarians should be asking is where was your local union and UEA???  I 
stayed a union member for a number of years, but as one by one the state 
dropped their media specialists I was convinced that they did not represent 
us and dropped out of the union.  To top it all off, Jordan School District 
noticed falling reading scores and hired "Literacy Specialists" for each of 
their elementary school.  Now I ask you, would it not have been much wiser 
to re-hire certified Library Media Specialists who ARE literacy specialists. 
They could have gotten much more bang for their bucks!
Susan Huff, Jordan School District

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ann Tidwell" <annt@provo.edu>
To: <library-media@lists.uen.org>
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2006 11:29 AM
Subject: [library-media] Provo School Libraries

I couldn't open the attachment to Fawn Morgans note with the above title but 
if it was regarding the recent announcement and Daily Herald Article, the 
following is my reply.

Everything that motivates me to value factual information compels me to 
reply to the Daily Herald article of March 15, 2006, PROVO PHASING OUT 
CERTIFIED SCHOOL LIBRARIANS. Part of the reason is that many of my 
colleagues and friends are having their lives disrupted by this decision but 

Lets get the emotional part out of the way first.
“…we don’t want to disrespect our media people…”
On two occasions we have requested a meeting with district personnel to 
clarify their intent so everyone received the same information about the 
transition.  The district canceled both meetings.
This is how we have been informed:
•BYU professor H. announced to his class of student teachers that the Provo 
School District was doing away with elementary Library Media Teachers (LMT).
•A rumor circulated that aides would replace LMTs when they retired or 
•A DRAFT of a proposal was shown to some LMTs by their principals that said 
the transition would be made in 2008.
•Suddenly, however, we have entered a time warp and 2006 is 2008.
That is how our LMTs who have given 270+ years of service to the district 
have been treated with dignity and respect.

Three quotes  - not from the Herald – but heard frequently around the 
“Provo School District makes curriculum decisions based on research.”
“Provo School District’s number one goal is literacy.”
“Provo School District does what’s best for kids.”
http://www.iema-ia.org/IEMA119.html gives executive summaries of 16 state 
studies that show the positive effect a strong library program with 
certificated professionals has on test scores (3% to 17% higher), reading 
scores, literacy, and life-long learning.  One of many quotes: “Research has 
shown that school libraries staffed by qualified library media specialists 
are needed to have a positive impact on student academic achievement.” (U.S. 
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, March 2005. A 
summary is attached to this email.)  A Goggle search “Colorado Study” (the 
first of the 16) will bring pages of listings with similar positive 
“We have to direct our resources to where they make the biggest impact, and 
that is in the classroom.”
The library is one of the most important classrooms in the school.   That is 
why Provo School District has required Library Media Teachers to have a BS 
or BA in Education, and a Library Endorsement or Master of Library and 
Information Sciences in addition to at least three years of classroom 
experience. The Library Media Teacher must know the students and curriculum 
from Kindergarten through 6th Grade. They teach a three-part curriculum 
mandated by the USOE including Information Literacy, Media Literacy and 
Literature. They must know how to select books that support the curriculum 
taught in the schools, provide teachers with information and materials 
needed to prepare their lessons, collaborate with teachers to extend 
classroom studies, enrich classroom libraries, and provide students with 
self-selected fiction and nonfiction for research, enjoyment and life-long 
learning. Elementary Library Media Teachers usually teach every class in the 
school for 30 minutes each week with an additional 15 minutes for book 
selection and circulation.
Here is typical schedule:
•Monday –five first grades learn about Antarctica with a non-fiction book 
about seals, penguins, and other animals and their adaptations to the 
environment. Read two storybooks about penguins and seals.  Skills: Phonics, 
left-to-right orientation, reading for information, reading and viewing a 
variety of media for enjoyment, 1st grade science curriculum, continent 
Afternoon: Two-hour activity lesson with third grade on using the dictionary 
as a reference tool in reading and writing.
•Tuesday –four 2nd grades use the Big 6® research process to learn how 
animals grow, change and adapt to their environment.  Continue writing rough 
draft of an illustrated book to share with other second grades on a 
class-selected subject (rattlesnake, quail, painted lady butterfly, 
woodpeckers). Skills: writing process, reading non-fiction and recalling 
facts, 2nd grade science core.
•Wednesday –four 5th grades continue a series of lessons in the Big 6® 
research process and use biographies, encyclopedias and the Internet to 
prepare a written report on an American Hero.  Subject: “What would you put 
in a suitcase if you were sending your hero on the most important journey of 
his/her life?”  Skills: research, writing process, higher order thinking, 
brainstorming, reading and recalling facts, 5th grade social studies core. 
Continue lessons with four 3rd grades on comparing and contrasting North and 
South America in terms of terrain, plant and animal life, environment and 
culture. Skills: reading, map skills, using picture maps for information, 
3rd grade social studies core.
•Thursday – Five kindergarten classes – Subject: characters and setting in 
stories.  Read two St. Patrick’s Day stories, discuss and describe 
Leprechauns and Trolls. Recite Mother Goose poems. Skills: phonemic 
awareness, phonics, literary devices, listening and viewing, recalling 
information, memorization. Three 6th grades: two are preparing Powerpoint 
presentations on the five senses and changing seasons for Kindergarten buddy 
classes.  One is finishing written reports on the country of their choice 
and preparing Powerpoint presentations for classmates and parents.
•Friday – four 4th grades – Activity to finish study of Utah’s forest, 
desert and wetland.
Co-ordinates game to list and review characteristics of the environments, 
the animals and plants that live there and how they adapt. Skills: reading 
and recalling, co-operation, concentration, test taking, 4th grade science 
“…seems to be a perception classified employees are less qualified to run 
the library.”
Show me a classified employee with the following college training: 12 hours 
children’s and young adult literature, 3 hours managing the school library, 
3 hours cataloging including MARC records, Dewey Decimal System and Library 
of Congress notation, 4 hours collection development, 3 hours statistical 
analysis and reporting, 6 hours information retrieval, reference and readers 
advisory, 3 hours history of the book, book care and preservation, 3 hours 
Automated Library Systems, many hours of technology including: basic 
computers, WAN and LAN, internet structure and searching techniques, Word 
Perfect, Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop; three days intense 
Follett training, five day information literacy and five days media literacy 
training from the USOE, and you will have a classified employee equally 
qualified to run the library.
…”these qualifications are not needed in many aspects of a librarian’s job.”
“…most of their work can be done by an employee with less education.”
•The Utah State Office of Education guidelines for a library aide says they 
maintain the library, circulate books, and occasionally read stories to 
classes.  If there is not a certificated librarian teaching the curriculum, 
it becomes the responsibility of the classroom teacher.  Is Provo School 
District following state guidelines in those schools without certificated 
LMTs?  Do parents and patrons of those schools know their children are not 
receiving an equal education?
•In any job, there is work that could be done by an employee with less 
education.  Saying a part time aide can do the work of a certificated 
librarian is the same as saying they can do  you in court.
•It is true that other people could: run the geography bee, maintain the 
school web site, help teachers with technology problems, teach the 
technology curriculum in addition to the library curriculum, plan 
graduation, run the spelling bee, do morning announcements, play morning 
music, supervise the student council, supervise summer-school groups, 
monitor testing, run the home reading program, serve on the school 
improvement team, plan and conduct musical events, conduct school 
assemblies, serve on the school safety committee, provide a pleasant place 
for faculty meetings, be the social hostess of the school, serve on the 
community council, run book fairs,  clean and maintain school equipment, 
order bulbs for projectors and supplies for the copier and printer, etc., 
etc., etc.,  These and many other tasks outside our job description are 
taken on by librarians, under the direction of the principal, for the good 
of the students and the school.
“…The district is among the last in the state to make the change.”
When did “But Mom, everybody’s doin’ it!” make it right.
“Provo School District makes decisions based on research?”
“Provo School District’s number one goal is literacy?”
“Provo School Districts does what’s best for kids?”
•Several districts where education is valued have full time certificated 
Library Media Teachers at all levels.  Among them:
Salt Lake School District, home of the University of Utah.
Cache School District, home of Utah State University.
Weber School District, home of Weber State University.
“Alpine School District switched to classified librarians about 15 years ago 
but does it’s own in-house training.”  And when they did, they hired a full 
time district library co-coordinator, Gloria Stratton, who designed a 
program that required library aides to have 20+ hours of college level 
training.  In other words, their classified personnel have the equivalent of 
a library endorsement.  Alpine School District doesn’t believe unqualified 
people can do the job.  Districts with classified librarians have a district 
coordinator, some have as many as five (Granite) to train and supervise.
…will save the district about $250,000 a year.”
What will it cost our students in terms of life-long learning, lower reading 
scores, lesser ability to collect and process accurate information, lower 
scores on state and national tests. The effect will not be immediately 
evident. It will take several years before it surfaces in upper elementary, 
then middle schools and high schools.


Ann S. Tidwell
Library Media Teacher
Sunset View Elementary
Provo School District

library-media mailing list