|Previous by Date||Next by Date||Date Index
Previous by Thread||Next by Thread
There's been some discussion lately on the Public Library Discussion Group listserv (email@example.com)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 firstname.lastname@example.org MARGARET REINGRUBER wrote: 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. Amen! 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.