Only in America

5 03 2008

I think we are all aware of the traditional, stereotypical image of librarians. Bookish, bespectacled, bun-haired spinsters devoid of a sense of humour.  While I would expect most moderately intelligent people to realise that we come in varied forms, I do think we still have a reputation for being a bit on the grumpy side.

 I will say it. There are a few awful TLs out there (as there are in every profession), and they really need to pull their socks up, because they’re giving the rest of us a bad name. There seems to be just enough of them to keep the stereotype alive.

The issue of overdue books doesn’t help.  It’s a sad fact of life that nagging to get resources back is part of the job, but it doesn’t need to get personal.  A great TL will have clear procedures in place, but really needs the support of the principal and all staff to back them up.  If you are a teacher or principal reading this, ask your library today what the current overdue list looks like, and how much this represents in real dollars.  Also ask about AV resources and equipment.  A great documentary might be irreplacable, a wayward data projector represents about $3,000. 

Getting people to return materials isn’t about us being grumpy, it’s about being the person responsible for protecting school assets, and it’s not an easy, or a fun task.  None of us want to do it, but neither do we want to report thousands of dollars of lost materials each year.

Here’s a recent story from Beloit, Wisconsin about a woman who has just been jailed for 6 days for overdue library books.  I understand there needs to be some consequence, but does the punishment fit the crime?  Add a comment below to share your opinion on the matter.

I’m now off to look under the bed for my kids’ lost library books.

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3 responses

5 03 2008
Georgia Phillips

You are a scream, Paatsch! Love it. And this is why I dare not borrow from libraries anymore!! GP

6 03 2008
Raewyn

This woman just needs to get life sorted – late books, no light bulb above the number plate, didn’t organise to get her mail held or forwarded, couldn’t be bothered taking the books back to the library rather than actually packing them and moving them along with everything else – she sounds like me and people like us need life’s hard lessons to drive home the point – get tidy!

16 03 2008
Cathy Hainstock

Hunting up overdue books can be done with a sense of humour — I go around to the classrooms once a fortnight chasing up books — I call it ‘a haunting’ — When I knock and enter the class now, the kids say, “uh-oh, who are you going to haunt today? I hope it’s not me!” I also take the time to ask if they know where the book is and how they will help themselves remember to return it. I see this exercise as one of learning to take responsiblity — I want to foster some strategies.
Now, the next question is how to get the teachers to take the same responsibility – ‘haunting’ doesn’t seem to work on them. =)

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