Senate Bill 143 mandates that every school in Nevada have a library. And not just a library, but a librarian to staff it.
In Clark County, 44 schools do not have a certified librarian, and one school does not have a library.
State Senator Becky Harris of Las Vegas is sponsoring the bill.
Harris said schools are eliminating their libraries, turning them into learning centers, or, in at least one case, a storage room.
“It is very disconcerting to me that first of all our students would lose such a precious resource and that they would lose the skills and the learning that would go along with a library, but additionally to that, schools that would repurpose a library into a storage facility we’re getting rid of hundreds of thousands of assets that belong to our schools,” Harris said.
Harris believes having school libraries is vital to the state’s efforts to improve education.
“If we are serious about improving education in this state, if we are serious about helping our children be literate, I think a library is critical,” she said.
The state senator also wants each school to have a certified librarian, but not everyone believes that position is critical. In the outline for the reorganization plan for Clark County Schools, librarians are designated as ‘flexible positions.’
Harris said librarians do more than just pull books off the shelves for kids. They help with finding the right resources, testing skills, teaching technology, and perhaps most important of all, foster a child’s early relationship with literature.
The school management teams that are now guiding many individual school decisions don’t get to choose whether the school offers first grade, Harris said, they should also not be allowed to decide if librarians are vital.
The biggest hurdle for Harris’ effort could be funding. She is working with the head of the finance committee to see if there is a way to fund the libraries’ mandate but it has not been worked out yet.
Becky Harris, Nevada State Senator
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