Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Calling the Library Corps

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.

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Comments

  1. anonymous coward says:

    “The general problem? “Michigan now ranks 47th nationwide in the ratio of students to certified school librarians.””

    Can we first take the steps to establish, with evidence, that this is actually a problem? I think it is- but I don’t KNOW it is. I’ve not seen any studies or data to verify the real world, negative ramifications of this problem. Have there been tracking of student bodies with and without a school library (controlled for socioeconomic status, etc.) that show, somehow, negative long term effects of a failure to provide such resources to the children? If not, why not?

  2. Bob Holley says:

    “Michigan? There are states I would expect that from, but not Michigan. Alas. At least the library school is still pretty good.”

    If you are talking about the state of Michigan, it has two library schools, one with Michigan in its name and the one at Wayne State University. Both are ALA accredited and nationally ranked by US News and World Reports. In the inevitable interests of full disclosure, I’m a retired professor from the second one.

  3. Special Librarian says:

    Annoyed Librarian:
    Just so you know, there are a lot of us who are quiet and don’t speak up very much in your blog. But, I know we enjoy it. For me, work can get very busy, but my secret indulgence once or twice each week is something fun; your blog. I think that by questioning life, by laughing at librarian foibles and society’s issues, and by being cynical about the many things affecting librarians in general, you are quietly/loudly alerting us to real problems. And yes, we can’t help but see society’s lessening support for the role of librarians. Still, librarian issues are useful indicators of ways that our society is changing, for better or worse, sometimes covertly. I see the underlying purpose of your column as a way to vent, to laugh, and then to think about issues thoughtfully. And when you occasionally huff and puff and rant about an issue, well, that’s your privilege and an effective way to draw attention to something, humorously. I’ve noted that sometimes you are very cynical or you exaggerate just to make a point. It’s your style. It works. And, when all is said and done, just maybe, after reading a post, we do something in our individual situations. In any case, thanks, and keep the blog posts coming.

  4. Just FYI–that comment about “being against everything” wasn’t directed at THIS blog. It was in response to a separate comment on your entry about NLW.

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