Thursday, April 12, 2012
Every School Needs a Good Library
April is National School Library Month. Visit the American Association of School Librarians website for lots of great information about this important topic.
School libraries are important because, for many public schools, they are becoming as rare as drive-in theaters. The comparison is apt. When I was living one of my previous nine lives, it was common for the family I lived with (in Amelia, Ohio) to pile everybody (including the family slobberdog and moi) into the big Buick and drive to the Starlite Drive-In Theater to watch a double-feature. Try to find a drive-in movie facility these days, and you may have a long drive (unless, of course, you live around here, because the Centerbrook Drive-In Theater is less than 10 miles south of Mooresville near Centerton, Indiana, or you could drive to Indianapolis to visit the Tibbs Drive-In Complex). But I digress.
School libraries were once a fixture in public education. Every public school had one, and a large number were staffed by full-time librarians who held masters degrees in both education and library science. Each had multiple librarian assistants, some of whom were also degreed teachers and/or librarians. Larger school libraries had several professional librarians, such as Scowl-Face's high school alma mater, which had at least four full-timers back in his day.
But education budgets have been slashed over the past two decades, and school libraries have dwindled or disappeared from many public schools. Worse, what passes today as a "fully functional" school library is often a few Internet-connected computers obtained from a tiny technology grant that a school corporation managed to wrangle from the thousands of competing schools. Sorry to disappoint, folks, but you simply cannot find the complete range of academic information students need solely on the Internet. The web is not a "knowledge panacea," any more than television is a bona-fide child care facility. Obviously, computers are a critical knowledge access tool, but books remain vital to the learning process. My minions have been working in libraries, in one capacity or another, since time immemorial, so I think I know what they're talking about.
A "Bookless" School Library in Massachusetts (2009)
School Library Books Remain Significant in Public Education
Our celebration of National School Library Month presents a key opportunity for us to discover ways to support our school libraries. Explore the possibilities that the American Library Association discusses through the AASL website. Talk with your public school administrators to see what you can do to help improve the quality of school libraries. Involve your local public libraries in the process. (This is Boss Lady's cause célèbre). Investigate as many options as you can, because much hope hinges upon the acquisition of public or private grants to finance school library resources.
Don't let school libraries go the way of the school mimeograph machine. It's your (grand)kids' minds at stake. Don't you want them to have every possible resource to develop intellectually? If you expect them to compete in a global economy, then you'd best make a fuss so your state and local politicians will listen and respond by amply funding your school systems. There's money available, if we have the collective will to put it to some good use.
Stepping Off My Soapbox Now For Some Lunch,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
National Library Events News Beat
P.S. "Wonderful World," by Sam Cooke, was released as a single on April 14, 1960, so an anniversary is fast approaching. The song relates what could be characterized as a typical high school student's reflection of what's important to him/her--namely, love. "Don't know much about . . ." is a repeated lyric. Unfortunately, if school libraries disappear or become severely diluted, as is the current trend, then those lyrics will ring true for American school children.