Florida School Librarian Training

Not all books in school libraries will be available in this course, because librarians will need to be trained to decide which instructional materials are allowed and which are prohibited. This is all part of a rule recently approved by the state Department of Education.

Under this new rule, the training will be mandatory for school library employees and the Miami-Dade and Broward school districts have already started the training.

The rule was approved during a meeting of the Department of Education, and requires school library employees to receive mandatory training on what materials are allowed and what are prohibited in libraries, now known as media centers.

It’s part of state law HB1467 passed last year that requires transparency in the selection of reading and instructional materials in public schools, includes parental involvement, and prohibits content that is pornographic and considered harmful to minors.

“When there is graphic sexual content, then the value of reading and language is lost,” a mother told the Department of Education.

But Kathleen Daniels, president of the Florida Association for Media in Education, says no educational books in the state contain pornography.

“There are people who have questioned some content, but there are no books for someone to end up arrested for breaking the law,” said the president of the Florida librarians’ organization.

Regarding the training, he explained that he asks them to be very careful, and that can be interpreted as a form of self-censorship.

However, Manny Díaz Jr., Florida Commissioner of Education clarified that part of the law indicates that a person could face criminal charges and be arrested for providing harmful materials to a minor. But that these can be removed from a school to avoid being arrested.

The training that is virtual would also be for school personnel with access to instructional materials, such as teachers.

Karla Hernández Mats, president of the teachers’ union, affirms that “we are seeing this as a method of oppression of not allowing information to be accessible. We are educators, it is better that children have access to clear, age-appropriate information.”

Miami-Dade schools have already started training and Broward reported that “a course was created so that all relevant information can be disseminated and accessible to schools, and thus guide them in relation to legislative changes, training, rules, etc. Schools received a memo with the new training. Tools were developed and put into practice at the beginning of the school year to track problem books at all levels.”

Other states have similar rules, in Florida the training guidelines were made with groups of parents and library employees.

Florida School Librarian Training