Last week a Kind Reader commented, “I can’t imagine being constantly against everything, but that’s the difference between you and most librarians, thankfully.” It does sort of make one wonder what blog that person has been reading all these years. Whatever it is, I’m against it. Ever since you commenced it.
But to inject a little cheer into everyone’s library day, let’s take a look at an elementary school in Michigan that’s getting a librarian for the first time in four years. Four years of students didn’t get the benefit of a school librarian, but now that’s fixed!
How were they able to achieve that? Did school funding improve? No, silly, that almost never happens. Did a state start caring about whether everyone, and not just private school students and rich suburbanites had the benefits of a school librarian? Don’t make me laugh bitterly.
Instead, “an enthusiastic group of volunteers — virtually all former educators — pitched in to open the Rogers School library all day every Tuesday.”
And that’s about as far as the excitement goes. Retired librarians and teachers are volunteering to open the library one day per week. That’s great and all, but it’s the kind of solution that makes the general problem seem worse.
The general problem? “Michigan now ranks 47th nationwide in the ratio of students to certified school librarians.”
Michigan? There are states I would expect that from, but not Michigan. Alas. At least the library school is still pretty good.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that the school will have some professionals on hand to read and check out books to the children, but what about all the other elementary schools? Should they all try to find retired volunteers?
It seems like that’s the kind of thing that can’t last for too many years before all the current librarians have retired and gotten too old to volunteer. And then where will we be?
It seems to be a sign of the times, though. Our roads and bridges are crumbling everyday, and instead of raising the taxes to pay for them the current POTUS wants to privatize all the roads. It’ll get to the point where you won’t be able to drive down a country lane without an E-ZPass.
Since there’s long been a move to privatize schools, or at least make them charter schools, which is pretty much the same thing, privatizing the libraries in the sense of not paying for them fits the agenda.
Maybe the solution would be to have volunteers come from other countries to help here. That’s what we already do for doctors and engineers, although we do pay those people.
It could be like the Peace Corps or Teach for America, except we pay those people as well.
At the very least we could give them free room and board. At least during the school year they could sleep in the library, shower in the locker rooms, and eat in the school cafeteria. It would give them a really good insight into the abysmal way America treats its poor people.
They might be used to an even lower abyss at home, though, so this could be a win-win for everyone.
We could call it the Library Corps and bring in people from Bangladesh or Syria or wherever. Syria might be best. We could take in refugees and staff libraries at the same time.
Teach them a little English or Spanish if they don’t already know it. Put them through some library basic training. And we’re off.
It might be better than nothing, and nothing is what we often have now.