Nearly half of all city public schools have no libraries, a fact that has long galled Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan.

Tuesday, at a news conference at University City High School, Jordan called for the district to ensure that each of the district's 258 schools was equipped with a library.

"There's nothing more important in educating your children than developing them into great readers," Jordan said in an interview. "Librarians work with teachers and help support curriculum across disciplines."

Students whose schools have libraries score better on crucial standardized tests. And because city libraries have had cutbacks in hours and staff, having such resources in schools is especially crucial now, Jordan said.

Shana Kemp, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia School District, said officials would love to have a library in every school.

"But under budget constraints, principals had to make some very tough decisions," Kemp said. "We agree with Mr. Jordan, and we are looking at ways to make sure that students get what they need."

Using classroom libraries and getting creative with technology are possible alternatives, Kemp said.

Jordan said he understood budget pressures.

But, he said, "it's a matter of prioritizing what is most important. It's very unfortunate that libraries and librarians have been cut. How can you not provide that service for your kids?"

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com.