WePAC’s school library opening initiative, launched in September 2009 at two schools, has grown over time due to the support of many. This academic year our library programs are touching about 8,000 students across 17 schools. We are currently on track to open 20 libraries by the end of the 20/21 school year. We believe that open books open minds!
Students in schools served by WePAC have much in common:
Median family income is below $20,000. Approximately 95% of the children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
More than one-third of adults lack a high school diploma and nearly one-quarter cannot read or write at an elementary school level.
An astounding 80% of students score below grade level in reading or math. The great majority are below grade level in both. And with the pressures of raising PSSA scores weighing on teachers and students alike, spontaneity and creative exploration have been siphoned from classrooms.
As recently as 25 years ago, every public school in Philadelphia had a professional librarian working in the school library. Until schools find a way to add librarians, volunteers can fill part of the void left by their loss.
At William Longstreth School, one library opened by WePAC, the facility had been closed to students for more than ten years. At the Morton McMichael School, the library had been closed for an entire generation!
WePAC renovates and opens closed elementary school libraries, collects and donates books to the libraries, and provides trained volunteers to staff and run the libraries. We love to bring authors, illustrators, elected officials, and celebrities into our libraries to share their books and stories with children. Let us know if you have any connections!
WePAC volunteers see library classes on a regular schedule, read stories to the students, help the children select and check out books, and work with the school to align library activities with the curriculum.
WePAC library volunteers donate more than 10,000 hours of direct service each school year. School administrators have reported an increase in excitement about reading and books, improved academic performance, and enthusiastic responses from teachers about having a school library. One principal reported her belief that her school was raised out of empowerment status because of these literacy-based activities.