Fighting the stereotype

21 09 2008

There I was, enjoying a peaceful morning on the first day of school holidays, when this discussion took place on Sunrise  (it’s the second topic of discussion). I realise their comments about libraries and librarians were mostly tongue in cheek, and I did have a bit of a laugh, but then sent off an email to Monique Wright explaining what school libraries are really like (or should be).  Maybe others might be likewise inspired to write to Sunrise and suggest they portray a more realistic view of the modern school library.   I know I’m not the only hubber to do so.  Really, Sunrise, you’re not helping!

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.