Friday, May 27, 2011

Children's Book Diva, Jane Yolen, Fires Letter to LA Administrator Regarding Firing of School Librarians

If you're a children's writer or even a fan of children's literature you surely know who Jane Yolen is. To me she is the ultimate children's book diva and a woman who is very respected in her field. When Jane talks books, people listen. Recently, an infuriated Yolen penned a letter to administrators in the LA area regarding an issue where the Board of Education and their lawyers questioned school librarians to assess their "teaching" skills. Here it is in Jane's own words:

Letter to the administrator in charge of firing LA school librarians who had the Board of Ed's lawyers take the librarians into the school basement and asked them to prove they were teachers with such questions as "Do you take attendance?".

Dear Mr. Deasy:

As the author of 300 published books (yes, that is not a typo!), many of them winners of the highest awards given for children's and adult books,

I have to commend you for closing libraries. You are turning out the lights in children's minds. It will make them much easier to recruit as cannon fodder,much easier to move them on conveyor belts, much easier to treat them as cattle.

Of all the people who work in a school, teachers and librarians are the heart and soul of the place. Not administrators. My late husband

was a professor and later on an administrator. You should have heard what he had to say about top-heavy administrations. I suggest you

take the administrators (yourself included) and ask them the same questions the lawyers are asking the librarians in the basement: do YOU take attendance? Do YOU teach in the classroom? Perhaps you should fire the administrators first. And the overpriced lawyers. And when you do, you will no doubt find you have the money to keep the librarians.

And the library.

The ones who turn on lights in children's minds and guard the flame in their hearts. With or without taking attendance.

Yours very truly and to tell the truth angrily as well,

Jane Yolen

At this point, all we can do is hope that Administrator Deasy sits up and takes notice. As far as I am concerned a library is the heart of any school. Can you even imagine a school without books? Thanks for your efforts Jane!

-Niki Masse Schoenfeldt


  1. Hooray for Jane Yolen! I'm not sure it will do anything, but her arguments are sound and righteous!

  2. Think if dozens and dozens of authors would write letters like this, maybe then they would take notice. Or maybe not. But it would be a start.

  3. I cpouldn't believe it yesterday when hubby told me that libraries in schools were closing. I kept thinking I had yet again lost son's library bag but they have stopped bringing library books home now and just read in the classroom. That is such a shame and not just for the poor librarians who have lost their jobs. Many a time in the younger classes in particular you can't do the fun stuff (like reading) until you have finished the last task you were doing, so now that they don't all leave the class at the same time and toddle off to the library you can bet some kids are still finishing off the last task while the rest of the class listens to a story. Very sad

  4. Terrific and many thanks for posting this! May I please link to this from my blog?

  5. Ssssssizzle! Ouch!

    I can't imagine a school without a library. Oh, my goodness, no!


  6. I really appreciated your post, this would really provide the great information .Thanks for sharing.

  7. When the ability to create, innovate and dream are highly valued attributes, it is a crime to institute barriers to books.

    How will students have access to books in low income areas? How will reading scores on standarized tests be increased if students are reading on a regular basis?

    Nancy Johnston

  8. Kudos for Jane! And she, of all people, knows the importance of libraries. Common sense is in short supply in this country.

  9. What a well crafted letter! Thanks for sharing.

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