Delaware Public Media

Proposed legislation would mandate school librarians

May 31, 2015

School librarians could become a mandatory school hire in Delaware should state lawmakers pass a new bill introduced last week.

Backed by Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-Newark) and others, every public elementary, middle and high school in all districts would be required to employ at least one librarian at all times – with district dollars if need be.

Requests to boost operating levies in the Christina and Milford School Districts have already failed this year multiple times, forcing officials to cut programs and personnel.

Citing Christina School District’s failed operating referendum last week, Baumbach says he doesn’t want a critical part of education to fall on the cutting room floor.

“When things get tough, one of the earliest items on the chopping blocks are librarians. Well, you know what, especially in our technological society and with our standardized tests, our librarians are doing incredibly important things and cutting them is a very short-term solution," said Baumbach. We’re going to be paying the price for that.”

Christina District officials say they will cut about 100 employees now that the referendum has failed.

Baumbach adds the unfunded mandate is not unprecedented.

"We’ve done the same thing with school nurses and made them mandatory. Librarians are easily as important to proper schooling,” said Baumbach.

The bill now awaits a committee hearing in the House.