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Dear Colleagues,
        I've had my feelings ruffled this past week and the situation is
eating at me. I would like to run the scenario by you and get your opinion.
        I've been in my present school library job for 7 years since the
middle school opened as a new school in a renovated building.  At the end
of the library there is a room with a glass picture windo overseeing the
larger library space and it is my office with a sink, desk filing cabinet,
personal small refrigerator, etc.  This is is one half of the space which
is devided by a metal double-door cabinet in which I hang my coat, etc. and
keeep supplies on the shelves.  The other side of the room is used as a
small professional library (mostly stocked by my personally shared
materials), a few sets of magazines like National Geographic for reference
and AV Hardware and software like TV/VCR combos on carts, extra overheads,
etc. The room has a padlocked wrought-iron gate in addition to the regular
door which also locks. The school's Channel One Box and monitor is on top
of the three side-by-side filing cabinets in the office.  The filing
cabinet by my desk has library related and personal files and the other two
have video tapes which I have mostly donated or are from Channel One, plus
a small vertical file.
        The only folks with a key to the padlocks are myself, the
principal, the main NTA (non-teaching assistant, and the building eengineer
for emergency purposes. The idea is privacy and security.  I have been in
schools in the past and know of others that have lost important equipment
to thievery because too many custodial staff members had access to keys. In
the seven years that I have been there, no one has ever touched that room
over the summer, even to clean it.  They wait till I come back in August
before school starts and I'm in the area before they do the floor in there
(it's very small). I consider at least half of it my private space and I
encourage students and staff alike to knock on the usually open door and
wait my permission before entering. My separate office/security areas in my
last two schools were accessible only by me, but this is before channel One.
        Well, the other morning I was awakened by an 8:30 AM phone call by
a woman who says she's met me briefly, but I can't place her. "I'm in your
office," she told me. "I need to show a video at 10:30 to the summer school
English classes and I'm having trouble getting it to broadcast out to the
        I said, "What?? Who let you in there?  I consider that my private
space and no one should be in there!"
        "Don't worry, " she replied. "The principal gave me the key and I
won't let anyone else in the library."
        "But I unplugged everything involving Channel One the last week of
school the way I do every year." I said.
        "I know how it works because I've done it at my school." she said.
        Although I was personally very upset at all this, it wasn't her
fault and I figured out by phone that a switch on the side of the grey box
was in the wrong position and she was then able to set up the video for
broadcast to the TV's in the rooms.
        The principal was an assistant last year in our annex building and
has just been appointed our new principal as our previous one has received
a promotion. He has said to me that he agrees we sould sit down in August
and talk about the library program and our philosophies and plans for next
        How do I handle these feelings of violation of my privacy??  Am I
making too big a deal of it in my mind? Do I just let it go?  Do I say
anything to him now or later in August about it?  Or at least tell him how
I felt when I received her call? (in my conversations with him in the past
he seems like a nice person).  I can see them wanting to play the video,
but wouldn't it have been nice to have thoughtfull called me and explained
what was planned? And I get nervous that too many folks will get into the
main library who may not even be staff from our school, but from others and
they may walk out with books I've worked so hard to acquire for our
collection. We've had workshops in the school in past summers, but not
summer school.  I could be wrong, but I'm not aware that if there were any
summer workshops for staff in the past, someone unlocked my office to play
a video out in the room or get out a TC/VCR on a cart to use.  How do you
cope with knowing that folks may be using your library when you're not
around and that something might disappear?
                                Thanks for listening to me vent, regardless!
                                                Sandy P. in Philly

"It's got to be the going not the gettin' there that's good." Harry Chapin
in song "Take the Greyhound"
"But then, you could go both ways!"  Scarecrow in movie "The Wizard of Oz"

Sandy Pomerantz, Librarian
Central East Middle School
236 E. Wyoming Ave.
Phila., PA 19120
(215) 456-3037

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