From today’s Toronto Star (online edition):
“In a controversial decision — which even some students are protesting — the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has laid off all but four of its library technicians and is dismantling all its libraries.” (I hope you’ll head over to the Star’s website to read the full article.)
The board’s acscertation that traditional libraries are “nostalgic”, and that schools should instead concentrate on “teaching 21st century learning skills” is deeply concerning. With some solid planning and the effective use of resources, a library is the ideal place to learn these kinds of skills, including research skills, the effective use of a wide variety of online tools and computer programs, and – particularly for younger students – the safe use of online resources.
Towards the end of the article, Cathy Geml, the associate director of the Windsor Catholic school board suggests that teens don’t take books out anymore in the Windsor Catholic board. According the the author, calls made to schools backed up this claim; one school reported a single book being signed out. However, this speaks more to usefulness (or lack thereof) of the kinds of resources the schools are providing, rather than the usefulness of the libraries themselves. If the items currently held in the library aren’t meeting students’ needs, then it’s time to re-evaluate the selection policy, especially as it relates to the current curriculum, as well as student interests, and look for ways to bring in new materials. This is increasingly difficult as school boards continue to be faced with budget cuts, but with good planning and a little creativity, I genuinely believe it can be done, and sincerely hope it will be.
Has your library faced potential closures? How did you or your community respond?
What else could be done to ensure that school libraries are meeting the needs of students and providing the materials that they need and want?