Last week someone commented on the post about school librarians asking whose side I was on. That answer should be obvious. I’m on the side of truth, justice, and the American way. Librarians are supposed to help people critically assess the comments they find on websites. That’s what I was doing.
The school librarian last week lamented that school librarians have to be their own propagandists, which is true. What’s also true is that they haven’t been very successful.
If you keep up with school librarian news, you’d know that the situation in California isn’t unique. When cutting education budgets, states all over the country often want to cut the libraries first, figuring that if the choice is between the librarians and the teachers, they’ll keep the teachers.
The threat of funding cuts is so common the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has a "Crisis Toolkit." They have a section of their website dedicated to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, where they complain that "Because ESEA does not highlight the direct correlation between a school library (staffed by a state-licensed school librarian) and increased student academic achievement, library resource budgets are increasingly being used to mitigate the effects of budgetary shortfalls."
School librarianship has been a profession in perpetual crisis for quite a while now. I think it’s even worse than the periodic budget crises of public libraries, because public libraries are visible to and used by the public. School libraries are hidden from the public. I, for example, have no idea what goes on in school libraries. I only vaguely recall my own school libraries, and don’t remember any librarians at all.
Unlike many librarians, school librarians are sometimes unionized with the teachers, but that doesn’t seem to protect them. The ALA won’t be any help, because it’s there for libraries, not librarians. The AASL is there for librarians, but as an ALA division they can’t do much besides put up crisis toolkits. As these things go, it looks like a pretty good decent toolkit, but the burden is still on the librarians themselves.
Whatever they’re doing isn’t working very well, because the librarians are still the first to be threatened with elimination when budgets go sour. When even some teachers think schools don’t need librarians, the librarians are in trouble.
However, as a favor to my earnest commenter, I’ll take the librarian side for argument’s sake. Consider the claims made last week, that America is a land chock full of people for whom facts and truth are meaningless, gullible semi-literates who believe in astrology, crystal healing, Scientology, homeopathic medicine, the prosperity gospel, Marxism, white supremacy, and political promises.
To these more obvious simpletons we can add people who believed that buying houses whose mortgage payments exceeded their monthly income was a good idea. Gullibility triumphs over arithmetic. Or the few daft souls who send their money to Nigeria and wait for their huge cash transfer.
Let us contemplate the range of foolish, ignorant, and gullible people abundantly evident in America and ask where most of these people went to school. They probably went to public school, like most Americans. And in these public schools, they encountered a lot of teachers trying to build their self-esteem, but almost no librarians teaching them to evaluate information. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the teachers leaving everyone so ignorant and gullible, and we need more librarians to fix the problem.