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An Attempt To Reverse Cuts At NJ School Libraries [AUDIO]

Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media

The recent economic downturn has resulted in budget cuts on every level, but one spot where it is quite evident is school libraries. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 9,000 public schools nationwide do not have a library.

Four years ago in New Jersey, there were between 1,900 and 2,000 school librarians. That number has dropped to about 1,500.

Representative Rush Holt appeared at libraries in central Jersey on Thursday promote the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act, which he will soon introduce on the federal level.

The SKILLs Act would authorize competitive grants to support school libraries, as well as focus new resources and support on digital literacy instruction, college preparation, and career readiness.

Holt noted the recent drop in school librarians as “cheating the kids.”

“Kids can get a lot of misinformation if they’re turned loose without guidance, on a computer, for example,” Holt said. “We need to restore the public demand for librarians.”

Susan Hildreth with the Institute of Museum and Library Services said school librarians are sometimes the first to go when schools look at possible cuts.

“Evidence shows that a school librarian committed to working with kids helps them reach better test scores, better grades in school, and more success in learning,” Hildreth said.

The NCES found over 22,000 public schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian.

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Video by Dino Flammia

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