The Los Angeles Unified school board approved a task force Tuesday to address the hundreds of school libraries that have closed due to a lack of specialized staff.
There are only 98 librarians in a district 768 school libraries. Many elementary schools opt for library aides instead - a lower-pay, part-time position. But even with aides, 332 school libraries do not have staff. State law says only librarians or aides can run school libraries.
"We all know that one immediate solution is the staffing of all our libraries," said board member Monica Ratliff, who authored the task force resolution. "Few are openly opposed to the concept of staffing all our libraries and many are currently interested in addressing the current system of inequity in which some students have access to library books and others don't."
Board member Monica Garcia was the only one to oppose the motion and dismissed the discussion as a union issue. She argued that if librarians and library aides have a task force, all other employees would need one, too.
"This is a 2014-2015 strategy for only one of the bargaining units or one of the classifications that took hits with every other classification - no one got away without sacrificing," Garcia said.
The issue of library closures quickly gained steam early this school year when KPCC reported that Lorne Street Elementary had a library full of books and no one to check them out.
The district did not provide the number of library closures at the time, but Ratliff said she "hounded them" until they provided staffing records. Those records showed about half of schools are without library staff.
The task force is expected to outline the current state of staffing and outline a plan for funding. Members will have 90 days to present recommendations for the budget.