professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

Losing librarians means losing more

So, Dallas ISD has decided to eliminate some of their school librarians (https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2017/04/17/facing-big-budget-cuts-librarians-get-boot-almost-dozen-dallas-isd-schools). They are quick to point out that they still have a large number of librarians in the district, and that this cut will save them $2 million toward their $60 million budget shortfall. The dispossessed librarians will be "shuffled" into other positions. This, administrators decree, is good because no one will lose her or his job. Of course, since Texas does not require "trained" (the article's word not mine), the district feels free to treat these folks as "support" and, therefore, expendable.

Interestingly, the cuts are at the high school and middle school level in the district. These libraries will be staffed by a single paraprofessional. In other words, there will be no services offered to the schools without a librarian. Someone will be there to check books in and out and resolve them. There will be no one to ensure standards re met, to assist teachers in locating databases and print resources, no one to help students in their research, no one to develop the collection, no one to weed the collection, etc.

One of the administrators is quoted about the need to retain elementary librarians, “When you are a teacher at an elementary, the librarian is a very big part of the process. There are times where the teacher leaves the student with the librarian." So, DISD is not cutting elementary librarians so that teachers can leave students in the library. I do not like this much either. It almost intimates that the librarian is more of an aide so teachers can take a break.

With the Texas Library Association beginning this week, the fact that administrators do to seem to understand the role of the school librarian is more than disconcerting. Recently, one of our doctoral students completed her research on the concepts administrators have about school librarian duties and tasks. Her findings underscore this lack of knowledge about the almost invisible work of the librarian. If all a school librarian does is clerical (shelving, checking books out and in, etc.) then they can be replaced by a paraprofessional or even a volunteer. However, there is much more to the profession.

I had the great good fortune of working with a superb librarian, Rosemary Smith. And now I have the wonderful task of helping educate (and not train) school librarians. After 26 years in the department, I know much more about the duties and tasks of the school librarian. If only administrators would learn about the crucial role they play.

BTW, a question: how many administrative positions are being cut to address this shortfall?
Tags: librarians, school libraries, schools
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