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There's been some discussion lately on the Public Library Discussion
Group listserv (publib@nysernet.org)re: School vs public librarians.
 I thought you-all might be interested in these comments which a friend
forwarded to me..  (Note: I am NOT on the public listserv, and I have no
connection with either of the two individuals responsible for the comments
posted.)  I do, however, think WE should be aware of the attitudes some of
our fellow librarians espouse.
Alice H. Yucht


 I don't think we're picking the right fight here.  In my experience,
 school librarians do what is humanly possible to serve their students,
 especially if they're in a one-person operation.  The problems arise when
 teachers assign work without notifying school and public librarians and
 without verifying that the assignment is reasonable and doable.  The
 hours that school libraries are open are also problematic--kids don't get
 a chance to visit the library during school hours and the library isn't
 open after hours because of staffing shortages. (Would you like to work
 in a school building all by yourself, at night?)

 School librarians and public librarians need more support from their
 funding agencies and more cooperation from teachers.  School libraries
 have a mandate to serve their students but are underutilized for homework
 assignments because of the reasons given above.

 Margaret K. Reingruber
 Reference Supervisor
 Charles Co. Public Library

Then JAMES B. CASEY replied:

Dear Margaret:

Not only do I think that it is the "right fight", and at
the right time but represents the most important single
service issue facing the library profession.  It is
extremely unfortunate that the public school librarians
have not joined in this demand for longer hours of library
service to youngsters at a time when it is so important
for the terms "education" and "library" to be considered
to be linked in the minds of tax payers and public officials.

I honestly think that too many public school librarians
are so contented with the M-F 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM hours,
the 9 month year which is studded with holidays, and
the relatively high paychecks, that they are conditioned
to attack the messenger bearing the bad news that k-12
school library service hours are abysmal rather than take
the steps needed to improve them.  Some school librarians
even try to develop complicated intellectual arguments
about such things as the "teachable moment" in order to
justify why evening, weekend and some holiday library
service to their student bodies would be unnecessary.
In many respects, the school librarian claim that "we
teach and other librarians don't" is considered to be
either laughable or insulting to academic and public
librarians who spend most of their professional service
time working directly with students.  Yet the argument
is presented again and again as justification for no
late afternoon, evening or weekend hours of service in
the school libraries.

Not only do public schools take the overwhelming majority
of the property tax dollars, but state legislatures deal
with sums in the hundreds of millions and even in the
billions when talking about subsidies for k-12 public
education.  That more than a few of those millions should
go to LIBRARIES is essential.  And yes, it will mean a fight
with and education power structure which has considered
library service to be less important than after school
football and intermural softball.  That many school
librarians have been acquiescent and often militant
in defense of this arrangement can't be helped.

Public Libraries have won some major funding battles.  When Mayor
Daley of Chicago awarded $50,000,000 for improvement of Chicago
Public Library facilities, he also stated at the same time that
LIBRARY service was essential for the EDUCATION of our children.

James B. Casey -  My own views as a public librarian and member of
ALA Council.

 As a brief P.S., the notion of school libraries staying
open during late afternoons, evenings and weekend hours
should only come to pass if proper funding were provided
by the school districts so that no librarian would have
to work beyond an 8 hour or 7.5 hour day. Public and
academic libraries must allocate the money to staff their
facilities with qualified librarians 7 days (68+) per
week during the school year.  There are shifts so that
sufficient staffing is available all hours we are open.
We even employ substitute M.L.S. librarians to cover
absences and vacations.  It costs MONEY to keep a library
open and provide service with qualified professionals.
The public libraries have been spending the money to provide
this service, while the k-12 schools have not.  Consequently,
the schools are getting a "free ride" and dodging a major
expense while the public libraries are hard pressed to
provide adequate service to meet the homework and study
needs of kids from dozens of schools.

The public schools should either fund their libraries
properly and keep them open to serve homework and study
needs of their student bodies, or permit public libraries
access to lottery and other "education" dollars.  If you
believe that library service is essential to support the
education process, then you should agree with my position.

James B. Casey - My own views.

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