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Wake County School Librarians Deliver Petition on Equitable Funding

The library is the heart of every public school. For months, school librarians in Wake County have been coming together to talk about their shared issues and find ways to better meet their students' needs.
Wake librarians
Published: June 7, 2024

The library is the heart of every public school. For months, school librarians in Wake County have been coming together to talk about their shared issues and find ways to better meet their students' needs. On June 4th, Wake librarians, parents, and supporters rallied and spoke out at the school board meeting in support of one easy way to help our students succeed: guarantee access to books across the district through a policy that puts money into all libraries. Wake NCAE members led the organizing effort, which saw a petition delivered with photos of the over 150 librarians who signed on to a request for a simple demand: an allocation of $10 per student to purchase books. 

Librarians held a short rally then spoke during the public comment section of the board's meeting. The importance of access to books for all students was a key part of what motivated their petition campaign, which united a supermajority of their coworkers behind their demands. 

Wake County, along with many counties across the state, currently does not have a policy that mandates how much of state funds allocated for instructional materials is spent on library books. Leaving the decision up to individual administrators creates a patchwork of access to books. Fifty-two percent of Wake County libraries did not have a budget for books this year, according to research by NCAE school librarians. School librarians step up to fill those gaps, but it's never enough. "I've written grants, I've given up instructional time and closed checkout to my students to set up and run bookfairs to raise money," said NCAE member Evelyn Bussell, of Leesville Road Middle School in northwest Raleigh.  

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North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction recommends that each school library buy one new book per student per year to maintain an up-to-date collection and according to research by NCAE school librarians, the average cost of a new book is $21. According to data gathered by the union's school librarian committee, almost all Wake NCAE members and supporters will continue to advocate for fully-funded libraries and access to books for all students in Wake County Public Schools, so librarians are requesting that Wake County allocate adequate funding to libraries.

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An equitable, quality public education for every child.

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), NC's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NCAE's members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NCAE has affiliate organizations in every county and student chapters in select colleges and universities throughout the state.