D.C. Public Schools is creating a task force to examine the quality of the schools' libraries and develop recommendations for staffing and providing programming at them, officials announced Friday.

"We know how absolutely fundamental reading is to our students' success," Chancellor Kaya Henderson said. "School libraries can be a critical resource, one that we can better utilize to support [our] goals."

The 18-member task force began meeting this week and is expected to wrap up its report by mid-December. It is headed by Carrie Wright, DCPS's chief academic officer, and Barbara Stripling, president-elect of the American Library Association.

The school system cut dozens of school librarian positions in trimming its budget this year, drawing protests from educators and parents who questioned whether the District is undercutting literacy while trying to reform its schools. Councilman Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, recently introduced legislation that would require every school to have a librarian, music teacher and art teacher, making the positions immune to budget cycles.

The idea of the task force is to, essentially, identify what a school library really needs to serve its students. Its members, including DCPS principals and parents, will evaluate staffing levels, book collections, instruction offered at the libraries, and community-based strategies to improve the libraries.