April 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Kids Suffer When Librarians Are Cut from Schools | Feedback

I am so pleased that School Library Journal published Rebecca Miller’s editorial, “The Cost of Cuts:  When we lose librarians it’s the kids who suffer most. My daughter’s middle school did not have a librarian for five years and the doors to the school’s nearly bare library remained closed during that time.

Last year a group of concerned citizens got together and, a year later, we have a part-time certified librarian (we’d like him to be full-time) and the difference is huge. When we started the process of bringing the library back to life, I was fortunate to have experts say that without a librarian it wasn’t worth reopening—I can see how that is right. Our students come in with their classes, but also during lunch and other free periods to pick the materials they want to read, to get help with research, and to congregate with their peers. It’s wonderful! I’m going to share your article with our administration. Thank you for writing it.

Heather Albee-Scott
Parkside Media Center Project
Jackson, MI

As a former school librarian now in higher ed, I am glad to see the research-based argument that Rebecca Miller puts forth in her editorial, “The Cost of Cuts,” for more reading and fewer cuts to library services. Apparently, though, SLJ did not get the memo about the Rotted Common Core, which is designed to function as the testing delivery system for the education deformers who are addicted to the multi-billion dollar business of standardized testing. As long as high-stakes testing continues, so will the slashing of educational services by the modern day efficiency zealots in charge at ED. Librarians need to climb aboard the anti-testing train, for until high-stakes testing ends, no book is safe. In solidarity.

James Horn, Professor
School of Educational Leadership
Cambridge College, MA

Dino tails

I’m very pleased that School Library Journal reviewed my book, Dig Those Dinosaurs. I’d like to respond to the reviewer’s concern about the position of the Triceratops’ tails in the illustrations. As the reviewer notes, current scientific theory holds that Triceratops did not continually drag their tails behind them. However, this book was vetted by Carl Mehling from the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Paleontology, who writes: “We have no good reason to believe that Triceratops never placed their tails on the ground. It is more than reasonable to state that we have very little idea about what long-extinct animals’ behaviors were like or what they were capable of.” Mr. Mehling disagrees with the reviewer’s comment that showing the tails down is “a major flaw” in the book.

Lori Haskins Houran
Palm Beach, FL

Dewey in Michigan

This is a response to Anne Colvin’s letter that contradicts my statement that Dewey is not being taught in Michigan schools. I based my statement on several facts.

The state benchmarks that the state tests are based on do not include any about library skills that include the Dewey Decimal System. They did prior to the MEAP testing, but have not included these benchmarks in years. The state of Michigan doesn’t even require schools (including high schools) to have a library. Now that NCA Accreditation has become AdvancEd, librarians are not even required for schools or whole districts to be accredited. The state has cut school funding for years.

Who would be teaching Dewey Decimal in the schools that have no library or have a library but no librarian? I have been in Michigan for 25 years as both a public and a school librarian. My district didn’t teach it for many years until I was hired a decade ago. I am in a growing district and students who have moved here from other Michigan school districts have not had any lessons in Dewey. Almost every student I have had from another state knew about Dewey and other library lessons I am teaching. While the too few librarians remaining here try to do their best, most students in Michigan don’t learn about the Dewey Decimal System. Ask the public librarians if you don’t believe me.

Ann West LaPrise
Elementary Librarian
Huron School District
New Boston, MI

A maverick librarian?

I was appalled at reading the interview with Deven Black in Library Hotline. Why would anyone choose to interview and highlight this man? He is a failure as a teacher, which continues to promulgate the idea that school librarians are terrible teachers, probably do not like the kids, and go into the library to escape them. As I continued reading “How is being a librarian different from being a teacher?,” Mr. Black states students like him more, “I listen to them blow off steam about their teachers…” How completely unprofessional can you get? Did he or anyone at Library Hotline stop to think perhaps this is why he failed at teaching?

You are perpetuating the stereotypes. Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach move into the libraries? As more schools are dropping certified MLS librarians for aides in the library and cannot seem to understand the correlation between a well-stocked library run by a professional librarian and reading scores this interview can’t help.

As a side note, I was a successful classroom teacher in junior high, middle school, and high school for 25 years. I went back to school and earned my MLS in 1994 and worked for five years as youth Ssrvices manager for the Yuma County Library District before being hired as the Assistant Library Director in 2005. I substituted in school libraries from elementary school through high school. I’m not unfamiliar with what I speak.

Carla Peterson
Assistant Library Director
Yuma County Library District, AZ

I am a retired school librarian working part-time in a public library. I was horrified to see an interview with Deven Black highlighted in Library Hotline. Learning to be a school librarian by tweeting? This kind of training/entry into the school library field is abhorrent and I am very surprised that the interview was published.

Rita Fontinha
Reference Librarian
Milton Public Library, MA

Editor’s Note: The version of the interview in Library Hotline was a very brief excerpt from the lengthy interview that was published in School Library Journal’s newsletter, Extra Helping: “Middle School Maverick: NYC Librarian Deven Black on Partnerships, Principals, and Progress



  1. James Horn is right. For more evidence against the rotton common core, please see

  2. James Horn is right. For more evidence against the rotten common core, please see