The Undercover Librarian

Items to Share: Libraries shelved as school boards look for cutbacks

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.

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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?

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One comment on “Items to Share: Libraries shelved as school boards look for cutbacks

  1. Lacey
    May 16, 2011

    I heard about this earlier today, and it made me angry, actually. There is nothing wrong with wanting to teach children “21st century learning skills”, but does that have to be at the expense of a library? I think this particular school board has lost sight of what a library really is… It’s more than just a place to check out books; sure it’s a place to quietly read or study, but it’s also a place to write, access resources and to just chill out quietly. Places where you can just sit quietly are few and far between anymore. I don’t know, it just makes me angry.

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2011 by and tagged , , .
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