OAKLAND, Calif. - A petition to put a high quality library in every Oakland public school began circulating on Monday asking that trustees find money to make that dream a reality.
The “All Students Deserve School Libraries” petition was created by Lisa Hobbs, a librarian at Crocker Highlands Elementary School.
The petition follows a 2 Investigates report in December revealing that at least 30 percent of Oakland public schools have shuttered school libraries because the district cannot afford to staff them. Many more schools have libraries that are not up to district standards, with old books and outdated materials.
The petition reminds the board that trustees adopted a policy last spring that claimed that school libraries are a “fundamental literacy and academic support system, essential to a quality education at every level” and should be headed by a professional teacher librarian.
The 2 Investigates report highlighted the fact that Oakland Unified only has five such librarians in the district, compared to San Francisco Unified, which employs 94 credentialed teacher librarians.
In San Francisco and San Jose, all the public school libraries are open.
Funding has not followed the board’s adoption of policy 6163.1, the petition argues.
Since 2008, Oakland’s roughly 80 school libraries are supposed to get about $1.7 million annually from a parcel tax called Measure G. The need is much greater than that, library advocates say.
While the petition does not talk about where the money would come from, Bradley Mart, chairman of the Measure G Oversight Committee, is urging the board to redirect $5 million annually from Measure G that is currently spent on class-size reduction on the district’s libraries.