Mesa Seeks Alternatives to Plan to Eliminate Librarians

Mesa Seeks Alternatives to Plan to Eliminate Librarians

Reacting to concerns voiced by library advocates over its decision to eliminate all 87 of its school library media specialist positions over the next three years, the board of the Mesa (Ariz.) Public School District has called for alternative suggestions for dealing with the district’s budgetary crisis. At an April 22 meeting, school board President Rich Crandall asked the library supporters in attendance to send him “fresh and concrete ideas” over the next two weeks, said Ann Ewbank, education liaison librarian at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

“They’ve kicked it back to us and said, you figure out where to cut,” Ewbank told American Libraries. The elimination of the librarians was projected to save $3.4 million over three years, so library supporters need to find budgetary alternatives that will save that amount. However, Ewbank insisted they’re not going to play “the Solomon game” and pit one area of services against another.

Ewbank said supporters hope to engage outside expertise in making their case, such as obtaining pro bono help from a local certified public accountant.

Before the school board meeting, about 60 librarians and community members attended a rally to protest the cuts and launch a statewide petition in support of school librarians. Ewbank called the event “incredibly heartening,” noting that the crowd included not just librarians but “parents, students, grandparents, and higher-education people,” proving that “this isn’t about librarians saving their own jobs.”

Posted on April 25, 2008. Discuss.