2018-04-11

Citing Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay, NDP calls for increased funding for school libraries

by Charles Mandel

  • <p>File photo</p><p>Kara Turner.</p>

The Nova Scotia NDP said April 6 it intends to introduce legislation aimed at protecting school libraries from closure and that would compel the Department of Education to provide adequate support to ensure libraries have enough staff.

The NDP cited Bayview Community School in Mahone Bay in particular, noting that parents in that community have been working to keep their school library open. In recent years cutbacks have meant that a team of volunteers has largely kept the school's library operational by raising funds through the Home and School Association.

"Children in our schools deserve to have a library, and it shouldn't be dependent on volunteers to raise the funds and provide staffing," Kara Turner, President of the Bayview Home and School Association, said in a news release.

"The library is often the heart of the school, it should be protected to make sure all children have access to books, a quiet space to learn and professional staff who can foster their love of reading."

The legislation would also allow integration of school libraries with public libraries and the university library system. This would expand the materials and resources available to students.

The NDP Caucus will introduce legislation today that would protect school libraries from closure and require the Department of Education to provide adequate support to ensure libraries have enough staff.

"School libraries around the province have been facing closures, cutbacks, and a general lack of resources," said Claudia Chender, NDP Education spokesperson. "Children need to have access to books, technology, and other educational materials under the supervision of trained library staff who can assist them with research and discovering new interests."

In June 2017, The South Shore Regional School Board eliminated over half their librarian positions in a round of layoffs.

At the time, the union that represents librarians as well as other non-teaching education staff in SSRSB called the changes "disappointing."

"We knew changes to library services were coming but we certainly did not expect any library staff positions to be altogether eliminated. It is disappointing and concerning that the board decided to go this route," said Jackie Swaine, president of Service Employees International Union Local 2.

Bayview Community School gets access to a librarian twice a week, though one of those days is provided using funds raised by the home and school association.

Before the cuts, a librarian was present three days a week.

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