Collection Development, School Libraries, Work Stuff

It’s been an interesting few weeks

Spring Break was, for me, just that: a break.  I traveled, did some work, and mostly just got ready for the sprint to the end of the school year (only seven weeks left, but who’s counting?).

Today I presented at the Alabama Library Association’s conference (thanks to Wendy for inviting me!), which meant updating my presentation on shelving.  I had the opportunity to reflect on what we’re doing, and where we’re going with our collection (particularly as our move to the “new” space draws nearer).  In conversations with the Head of our History Department, we’ve talked about where students can best find certain information.  YMMV, but at Hackley our students aren’t studying civil rights as a separate thing, it’s interwoven into the history curriculum.  So, all those books on slavery and the civil rights movement need to move from the 300s to the 900s.  This was reaffirmed during our recent 20th Century World project, when students were doing projects on how American culture helped end apartheid (remember divestiture?  I do) and on SNCC: without that cultural context, those movements might not make sense to younger researchers.

I wrote a blog post for AASL about our budgeting issues; looking at Shonda Brisco’s map of schools without librarians has given me pause.  Hackley definitely supports the library, for which I am grateful.  But what about the students here who live in a community that doesn’t have a good public library (or has one that is facing staffing or opening hours reductions)?  I know they can’t come to my library as much as they may need for research because they have other commitments (like sports, play practice, jobs, etc, not to mention classes), so closing their local library or making it less accessible will hurt them.

I wish we could overlay the map of schools and communities: how many students nationwide will be left with no librarians, and no library access?  How many will lose access to quality databases because neither their school nor their public library can afford them?  Who will teach them to locate information, or help them with reference questions?

In the town in which my parents live, there was no public library until about 20 years ago; people would go to the bookmobile or to the Utica Public Library to borrow books and do research.  Of course, that depended on good driving conditions and your ability to get there when the library was open (or the bookmobile made its rounds).  What will happen if the town (and country) shut down the libraries?

I’d like to think that, thanks to the support Hackley has given the library, we have a good collection.  Making the print resources accessible to our students is critical, as is pointing them towards electronic resources.  That they can use the electronic resources when they cannot physically come to the library is wonderful, but I do worry about their ability to find quality print resources when this library is closed.  I also worry that as they see their local school libraries and public libraries closing, they will start to think that society doesn’t value libraries, so why should they?

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