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Your Guide to Understanding the Library in Every School Bills

Contributed by: Joy Lyman, 313Reads Michigan Education Policy Fellow with Teach for America Detroit

This month there has been a lot of movement around recently introduced bills advocating for libraries and librarians in all Michigan schools. Our Michigan Education Policy Fellow, Joy Lyman, attended and testified at the recent Senate hearing on the bills. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Libraries have been disappearing from Michigan schools over the last two decades. The Great Recession (2007-2009) caused many schools to cut library budgets, and they never recovered. Only 8% of Michigan schools have a full time librarian on staff, and there is a significant equity gap, which means that non-white and non-Hispanic students are less likely to have access to a certified school librarian. In Michigan, there are no reporting requirements regarding school libraries, so it is hard to understand exactly what schools have a library or librarian on staff. There is a significant lack of libraries and librarians in both DPSCD and public charter schools in Detroit, although schools like UPrep are using staff and student based efforts to bring school libraries back to the community.

  2. The bills would require all Michigan public schools to have a library by the 2025-26 school year. The library must be in its own space and must be staffed by a certified librarian (or when one is not present, by other school personnel).

  3. The bills would require all Michigan schools to have a librarian on staff who is either certified or in the process of obtaining certification through a credentialed institution. Smaller schools would be able to make this a part-time position, while larger schools would require multiple librarians, creating more equitable staffing requirements.

  4. The bills do not guarantee funding for school libraries and this is problematic. The Michigan Senate passed a budget recommendation that allocated $25 million to Michigan school libraries, but according to a recent analysis, the cost of enacting these bills could be up to $403.7 million for districts across the state. The issue of funding is an equity issue because the smallest schools and districts will be disproportionately burdened in implementing the new laws, if they pass. These schools will have the highest financial needs in creating the infrastructure needed to be in compliance with the law.

  5. Libraries are a part of a larger literacy issue in Michigan. Michigan ranks 46th in the country in school library staffing. As of the 2022 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), Michigan ranked 43rd in the nation for fourth grade reading scores. Michigan’s ranking is even lower for Black/African American 4th grade students, demonstrating continued inequities in our education system. Libraries are an essential part of the school and community ecosystem, and ensuring that our students have access to libraries and librarians is one way we can try to change this data for the better for our students. 

313Reads supports the idea of all schools having school libraries staffed by a certified school librarian, but wants to see these bills revised to include language that addresses equity issues- specifically around providing funding for districts who do not have the infrastructure or staff to  be in compliance with these requirements. Many schools in our community don’t have the space for a library, don’t have a certified librarian currently on staff, and don’t have the budget to quickly adapt to the new legislation. We hope that the Senate and House will consider amending the language of the bills to account for funding equity, and we encourage our community to push their lawmakers to consider this, as well. If you’re interested in supporting these bills to move forward, consider adding your signature here. Now that the Senate has had a hearing on the bills, they may pass them with some changes. You can read the bills or even suggest changes to them if you’d like to get more involved.


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