A Divided City: librarians have become a discretionary purchase

I have blogged about both YOUMedia and Whittier Elementary School, both in Chicago.  YOUMedia is Chicago’s highly successful digital space for teens.  Whittier Elementary School (Chicago Public Schools) was a school where parent’s staged a month long sit-in to restore the schools library.

Well, a recent article explains that the sit-in at Whittier Elementary School was a minor success in regards to the 164 Chicago Public Schools lacking a library.  1 in 4 elementary schools and 51 high schools in Chicago do not have a stand alone professionally staffed library.  The deathblow comes from an expert on urban education who states that librarians have become a discretionary purchase.

So in Chicago, kids likely have no access to a library in their schools, but a lucky few have access to games at YOUMedia?  Don’t get me wrong, I think YOUMedia is great, and will be the future of libraries.  I think Chicago Public Library is a great organization, but I’m just trying to point out the obvious divide here.  How is Chicago so supportive of libraries on one-hand and yet also view libraries as discretionary purchases on the other?

The biggest question for me is how are teens suppose to use the YOUMedia center if they have not had access to libraries in their schools?  More importantly, how are the kids who most need access to libraries going feel about all of this?



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Filed under Chicago, digital divide, information activist

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