SPS Librarians Facing Odds

District budget plan suggests librarian reductions.


Art by Simone Cielos

“I always say to myself it’s like the heart of the building,” said Mr. Manzin, Garfield’s High School’s librarian. The school library  is a central place in the building the community can access resources. But with recent Seattle School District budget plans for next year, it is unclear if Garfield and many other schools may be left to function without the library always open.

The new district budget suggests that librarians may be reduced to a part-time position. Although it’s not clear what this may look like, librarians would simply be around less to support the school.

“I’m here as a resource all day for students, staff, alumni, community members, and I can’t imagine not being here available for them, especially during the school day,” Manzin said. “There are so many students that I know personally that don’t have the resources at home, like computers, and this is one of those places they have access.”

Manzin allows students to check out laptops because he understands how students can’t always be in the library when they need to work online. “Without me being here assisting and helping them check out this equipment and circulate it, I’m not sure how some students are going to do going forward,” Manzin said.

Manzin has been a librarian at Garfield for three years and has been working to reduce the equity gap. But with resources potentially being limited, that progress could be impacted.

“I think that what we are going to see is that those gaps start to open up wider again because of not having the resources available to all of our students at all times,” Manzin said.

“It really scares me to think that in a building with a huge homeless student population, there’s not going to be a space that they know they can go to if they really needed to get help with schoolwork but even more than that, having a place to be.”

Unlike teachers whose relationship with students require them to grade their work, librarians hold a special role in the building. “I’m one of the few adults that is really there to help and assist and I don’t come with any judgment,” Manzin said.

“Education without a person in that role just becomes a classroom experience and there’s nothing broader.”

The change wouldn’t just impact high schools either, it will affect middle and elementary schools across the district. Elaine Harger, Washington Middle School’s librarian, notes how students use the library for a variety of important reasons both academically and socially.

“The library is where very important conversations take place. Conversations about social justice, eduction, community, and about the past, present, and future,” said Harger. “The library connects the school to the outside world.”

Even when the future is uncertain, librarians will continue to do their best to support the school’s needs. “I can guarantee any librarian in any position is going to work that much harder to still make it a full experience for every student,” Manzin said.