“Dr Kincannon and I realized that our libraries were outdated and not being used as they should be,” he said.
Years of low budget priorities had robbed librarians in some schools, leaving library assistants to lead them. Little money for new books meant that many collections were aging in place, often with overcrowded shelves that intimidated students looking for something to read. Some libraries felt like a stir in the learning flow of their schools.
When officials examined the district library’s collections at its 15 elementary, four middle and two high schools, they found that two-thirds of the books had been added before the district’s graduates began grade one: 152,283 of the 236,058 books were 16 years of age or older.
Under American Library Association guidelines that recommend a ratio of 20 relevant books for each student, Waco ISD was not successful.
“About more than half of the books in our libraries were irrelevant,” Allen said.
Then the pandemic struck in mid-spring, with Waco ISD campuses closed for the remainder of the semester to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Plans to improve the library were postponed. Students have returned to their schools for the 2020-21 school year, but COVID-19 protocols have restricted student access, group meetings, and book outings, among others.