Charter schools are far less likely than traditional schools to have libraries or librarians, surveys show.
During the 2011–12 school year, 49 percent of public charter schools reported having a library media center compared to 93 percent of traditional public schools in the United States, according to a survey by the National Center on Education Statistics.
Nationwide, one-third of libraries in public charter schools had full-time, paid, state-certified library media center specialists, compared to two-thirds of traditional public schools.
Publicly funded, independently operated charter schools typically have greater discretion over their spending and often have smaller or temporary facilities.
In 2014, the D.C. Public Charter School Board surveyed charter schools in the District to determine what library services they offer. Of the 100 campuses that reported library data, 43 had libraries outside the classroom, while 44 had classroom libraries. There were 13 campuses that reported having no library.
KIPP DC reported investing in classroom libraries at each of its campuses rather than in school-wide libraries.
Kate Finley, chief academic officer for KIPP DC, said it’s part of the culture of their classrooms for students to have a wide range of books at their fingertips, organized by reading levels.
Advocates for school libraries say centralized libraries serve a different purpose, as a center where students can learn research and information skills and where they can explore books on any topic at any level.
D.C. Public Libraries is opening a branch at DC Prep Benning Public Charter School this month, with plans to have a collection of 5,000 books and staff who will connect students and teachers to library resources at the school and a nearby D.C. public library on Benning Road.
The plan was outlined Tuesday by Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the D.C. Public Library at an oversight hearing before the D.C. Council Education Committee.