Voter-approved bond issues have transformed TPS media centers into useful resources for students.
When Terri Lewis began her career in education 15 years ago, her job title was "library assistant in the school cafeteria" -- because that was where the books were kept.
A few shelves along a perimeter wall was where students came to check out books, but only when there were enough books to go around and when it was not lunchtime.
"You could only have 'library' time if they weren't eating lunch," said Lewis, who is now a certified library media specialist at Mark Twain Elementary School. "And if a Boy Scout troop or some other group had met in the cafeteria the night before, it wasn't uncommon to find a hot dog or some other crazy thing tucked into the shelves."
Even worse than the lack of dedicated space, however, was the extreme lack of funding for materials, Lewis said.
"We got $400 for books each year back then, which did nothing. Now we get between $3,000 and $4,000, and just trying to keep current on the curriculum is still quite difficult, because a good nonfiction book costs about $20," she said.
School libraries in Tulsa Public Schools are undergoing a renaissance thanks to a wave of voter-approved
bond issues that began a decade ago.
So far, a total of $34.43 million from 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2005 bond issues has been dedicated to library resources and the renovation and new construction of facilities.
Between 1996 and 2001, 52 school libraries were constructed or underwent major remodeling. The 2005 bond issue included funds for an additional eight major library building projects.
Now, students have access to a large collection of books and electronic resources, and classes can visit libraries more frequently because so many of them are large enough to accommodate more than one class.
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