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When I worked in a private school a few years ago, I had a headmaster
with the same uneducated thought process--- in fact, he even gave me a
newspaper article one day with a bold headline that read..."We Don't
Need Libraries With Google."  His arogance in reminding me that the
Internet contained everything that our college-prep students would
need for academic success in the classroom made me decide to keep the
newspaper only to remind myself of how misinformed many of our
decision-makers are about libraries and librarians.

While he did not eliminate the library, his attitude toward it was
always one of contempt. In fact, once when I was teaching a class in
how to use the online databases, he stopped by to watch.  One of the
students had a problem finding information on his topic-- Timothy
McVeigh. When the headmaster began helping the student, he also
discovered that he was unable to locate any  information.  It was at
the point that he decided to make a public statement to the class
about how libraries and databases were obsolete and that Google would
be a better choice for this type of research. When I stepped over to
see how they were constructing their search, I discovered that BOTH
the student and the headmaster had spelled Timothy McVeigh's last name
as McVAY.  When I changed the spelling, the student discovered
hundreds of resources, primary source documents, and even streaming
videos---all appropriate for his research.

It was at that time that I stated aloud to the class..."In order to
perform any type of research, it is helpful if you have the ability to
spell correctly."  In a class filled with high school boys, this was
probably one of the most disrespectful comments that I could have
made.  However, the credibility of the library (and librarians) was
won at that moment and I discovered that most of the young men visited
the library later to ask me for assistance with other assignments or
to locate the information that they needed.  The headmaster continued
to make bad choices for the school and was asked to resign a year
later.  Later when I moved on to other opportunities...I found that
this particular administrator had made similar "bad decisions" in
other schools within the area.

The lesson learned from this (in my opinion) is to educate those
pre-service administrators as to what libraries and librarians can do
for their students and their academic programs.  This continues to be
the "missing link" within many schools and until we address this
disconnect between the most valuable asset to the educational program
and how administrators (and educators) see school libraries, we will
continue to see these crazy ideas of removing "the heart" in order to
save a dying education program.

Just a few thoughts...and personal experiences from the field.


Shonda Brisco
Assistant Professor / Curriculum Materials Librarian
Mary L. Williams Curriculum Materials Library
001 Willard Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078

"Digital Resources" columnist
School Library Journal

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money
will get you through times of no libraries." ~ Library Poster

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