MTA School Library Task Force
The MTA Task Force on Equity in PreK-12 School Libraries was the result of New Business Item #4, adopted by the MTA Annual Meeting of Delegates in May 2018.
The goals of the task force were to:
- Gather, review and analyze information from existing sources and from MTA locals about the availability and staffing patterns of libraries/learning commons for students attending preK-12 schools in Massachusetts.
- Include data about whether the libraries/learning commons are staffed by licensed librarians, non-licensed ESPs, other staff or volunteers.
- Generate a report detailing the findings of the task force’s analysis. Highlight patterns of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in the report.
- Publicize the results in existing MTA online and print media channels, and use the results to (1) promote school libraries staffed by professionally licensed librarians with ESP support staff and (2) campaign for the Fair Share Amendment.
- Create a toolkit for local associations to use in bargaining for professionally licensed school librarians and ESP support staff.
- Foster collaboration and coalition work between library organizations and the MTA, including helping to promote the recommendations made in “The Massachusetts School Library Study: Equity and Access for Students in the Commonwealth,” the March 2018 report of the Legislative Special Commission on School Library Services.
Sue Doherty, a librarian in the Needham Public Schools and chair of the MTA task force, said in the Winter 2019 edition of MTA Today that school librarians have grown increasingly alarmed as they have watched the steady erosion of student access to school libraries and the elimination of scores of certified librarian positions around the state, especially in lower‐income districts. A document produced by the MTA Education Policy and Practice Committee, “The Public Schools and Colleges Our Students Deserve,” notes that “every school should have a fully resourced library with a certified librarian and adequate support staff. The evidence is clear that school libraries staffed with certified librarians have a direct and measurable impact on students’ learning, reading comprehension and academic achievement and that these positive results are magnified for students in low-income communities of color.”
New Business Item #5, also approved at the 2018 MTA Annual Meeting, called for the MTA to endorse the recommendations of the Legislative Special Commission, which stated, “All students deserve equitable access to key resources for learning, including school library with certified librarians and support staff.” The special commission found many inequities in Massachusetts students’ access to well‐funded school library programs staffed by licensed librarians. New Business Item #5 also called on the MTA to promote the commission’s report and recommendations through established MTA digital and print channels, and for leaders of the MTA to send a letter of support for these recommendations to the DESE and members of the Massachusetts Legislature.