For immediate release
From: Susan Haine, 215.895.6271
PHILADELPHIA (June 16, 2010) - School librarians inspire. They introduce students to favorite books, teach students how to use the tools through which they can seek new knowledge, and encourage students to explore the world around them. They also support faculty in finding the best information available through various electronic and print reference sources, assist with the development of lesson plans and curricula, and much more.
However, in Philadelphia, the number of certified school librarians working in the city's public schools is woefully inadequate. According to the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians, the total number of "highly qualified" librarians in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) was 176 in 1991. By 2008/2009, when data were most recently reported, that number dropped to 77*.
The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology seeks to increase the number of certified school librarians in the School District of Philadelphia.
The College was recently awarded grant money that will fund the educations of 10 students so that they can earn master's degrees in Library and Information Science with a concentration in School Library Media from the iSchool and become eligible for Pennsylvania's Library Science K-12 Certification. The College received a $622,963 federal grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) to support the recruitment and education of these students.
Said Congressman Chaka Fattah in a press release: "This grant is an indication of Drexel University's strong commitment to the City of Philadelphia and its school system and I applaud their partnership with the School District of Philadelphia. Our underserved school libraries need whatever help we can provide for them."
The program will maintain strong links with the Philadelphia community. The aim is to recruit and educate current professional and paraprofessional employees from the SDP. Students in the program will participate in mentoring activities coordinated through the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians, and will complete their field studies in SDP schools. At the conclusion of the program, graduates will begin a three-year commitment to work as librarians in the SDP.
"At the iSchool at Drexel, we prepare students for careers in information-rich and increasingly technologically diverse environments," said Dean David E. Fenske. "It is imperative, therefore, that educators, especially school librarians, are able to thrive, creating enhanced learning environments and passing on their knowledge to their colleagues and students. With an iSchool education, they will be able to do all this and more."
Dr. Delia Neuman, Director of the School Library Media Program at the iSchool and principal investigator for the grant, described the importance of the award this way: "To thrive in today's information-rich world, students must become proficient in accessing, evaluating, and using information. They have to learn that there's more to information seeking than clicking on Google, they have to learn how to evaluate information for quality and relevance, and they have to learn how to put information together into ideas and products that are clear and coherent. That's what school library media specialists teach-and that's why we're thrilled to have received this grant. It will educate 10 more people to work with Philadelphia's students to help them succeed in their use of information both in their current education and beyond."
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. During the past five years, the IMLS has contributed more than $3 million in grants to support the research of iSchool faculty members and the educations of more than a dozen doctoral students.
To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.
Founded in 1892, The iSchool at Drexel educates students in information science and technology at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels and features Drexel University's Cooperative Education program. The College's mission is to unite technology, people, and information to make a fundamental difference in tomorrow's knowledge society. The iSchool at Drexel is a founding member of the iSchools Caucus of 25 prominent colleges dedicated to immersing students in the iField - connecting people, information and technology. For more information visit www.ischool.drexel.edu