Wednesday, June 21, 2006

LAURA BUSH VS. LOONY LIBRARIANS

Wow, check it out: Michelle Malkin linked to Corrigenda! You have to scroll down to the end. A fine piece on the ALA's invite of Laura Bush to New Orleans, and the predictable crying from the ALA nursery.

Were this not the Summer break for this private school librarian, I might have noticed Malkin's link and had some new posting up for visiters. As it turned out, I had a post on single-malt scotch. Oops. What can I say? Alcohol clouds your judgement.

Fortunately, SHUSH - for the conservative librarian has been keeping up with the Laura Bush bruhaha, even printing the responses to her invite from various librarians. A couple of the librarians are put out by the ALA's announcement that the doors will be shut and no one allowed in the 1st Lady's speech after it starts, a fairly standard proceedure.

"I actually think that this is unprecedented and goes against our open meetings policy" opines Diedra Conkling. Mmm...you may be right, Diedra. Unless of course we're talking about Cubans who are less-than-enchanted by Castro's dictatorship. They're not welcome before or after the doors are closed.

12 Comments:

At 11:26 AM, Blogger mdoneil said...

Giddy I am. Michelle Malkin linked to Right Wing Librarian as well.

Makes me want to go out and speak Tagalog.

Slowly but surely the public is realizing that the ALA and many librarians are completely nuts.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Ann Ewbank said...

Posted at Malkin's column at TownHall

As with any event that a major political figure attends, there is bound to be controversy. However, the comments being made on both sides of the argument are taking the focus away from school libraries, which does a disservice to kids. As a member of ALA, newly elected Councilor, and former school librarian, I am glad that Laura Bush has been invited to attend ALA and draw national attention to a serious issue in American public education. In Arizona, where I live, only 50% of elementary schools have a certified librarian. Some schools do not have libraries at all, and some schools have a library that consists of 150 ratty paperbacks in a closet. Under federal accounting guidelines, school library services are considered a non-instructional expense, like transportation and food services (expenses like prom and athletics are considered to be instructional). Yet, there are fourteen replicated studies that indicate that a strong library program is a major factor in student achievement on standardized tests. In January, the ALA Council passed a resolution that recommended that school library services be considered instructional. School librarians are not required to be highly qualified as part of No Child Left Behind. In 2003, the ALA Council passed a resolution that supported the inclusion of librarians as required to be highly qualified under NCLB. What does this have to do with rebuilding school libraries after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina? It has to do with student achievement. It has to do with providing opportunities for literacy. It has to do with rebuilding a community. A library is so much more than a collection of books in a room. It is a community cornerstone. When your entire community has been washed away, you need normalcy. You need information. You need kids to get back to school as soon as possible so that they do not lose valuable learning time. This is why Laura Bush has been invited and this is where the focus should be. Please remember that ALA is an enormous organization of 60,000. There are many viewpoints within the membership and within ALA Council.

Thanks, Ann Dutton Ewbank, Ph.D. ALA Member, ALA Councilor 2006-2009 (my term begins at the close of the 2006 Annual conference)

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Bunny Watson said...

Wow - gotta love the internet. I got a link too, as did the Annoyed Librarian! What fun the internet is! Too bad I won't be at ALA to hear Mrs. Bush's speech.

 
At 8:17 AM, Blogger Paul Pennyfeather said...

Thank you, Ann, for your thoughtful comments. Most of it I agree with. I am an Elementary and Middle School librarian, so these issues are dear to me. Glad to have you speaking for us in ALA.

One thought, however. You write:

"In Arizona, where I live, only 50% of elementary schools have a certified librarian."

Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is a "certified librarian?" I have a BA in History and a MA in Library and Information Science (my college wanted to call it an MA in "Information Science" and we demanded they keep "Librarian" in the title). Am I certified?

To be certified in a particular field usually means that beyond your education, experience, and any particular talents you have, you need to pass a test administered by private organization, albeit one that could limit your entrance into that field (should you fail).

Are 50% of the Elementary school librarians in Arizona unqualified in any demonstrable way? Do they lack the MA degree? Or are you saying they have not sought and received some special certification?

If it's the latter, I wonder if those elementary school students are really being shafted. I'm dubious about private organizations being gatekeepers to a particular profession, intervening in the private contract between an employer and potential employee. This tends to limit competition in that field; limit opportunities for those seeking work in that field; and leave open opportunities for narrow political agendas to be subsituted for genuine knowledge, as all are made subject to the dictates of what the private, certifying organization decides constitutes "qualified."

In other words, there's room for a lot of political mischief.

NPR did a story on a Lebanese man who drives a cab in New York. He graduated from a top med school and worked in the largest hospital in Lebanon. So why isn't he practicing medicine in the US? He can't afford the pricey AMA certification and its many attendant costs. NPR was concerned only with the fact that he had to drive a cab. Not emphasized in the story was the fact he was perfectly qualified to perform medical services to his community (who really need such services), and wanted to do so on a CASH BASIS, ignoring insurance bureaucracy and other cost-expanding elements.

If librarian certification is to be akin to AMA certification of doctors, we should realize the attendant costs only hurt those who most need the services.

If I've misinterpreted your point about "certified librarians" I apologize. I'll shut up now.

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Paul Pennyfeather said...

For Annoyed Librarian (and others), a heartfelt apology. I have been TERRIBLE about updating the links on corrigenda. There are many sites, some fairly new, that should have a link on my page. My real-world job has kept me away from cyberspace, for the most part, except for an occasional posting on this blog.

I promise to update my links soon. After today I'm off for a month, during which I will revamp the blog.

Thanks to everyone who reads corrigenda. As soon as I think I'm talking to myself, I get comments and a slew of emails (not all of them nice, but that's okay). I just hope I can add something to the expanding universe of conservative/libertarian library blogging. It wasn't that long ago that I searched for a non-liberal/non-radical library blog and found nothing.

We've come a long way, baby. Thanks for letting me tag along with the rest of you.

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger Paul Pennyfeather said...

Correction: when I said I am "off for a month," I meant my real job, NOT THE BLOG. Don't abandon me! I will post during the Summer. Promise.

 
At 10:16 PM, Blogger Ann Ewbank said...

Paul-

Good question. In Arizona, 50% of elementary schools have a librarian who has a teaching crediential and a library endorsement on that teaching credential, which means that they have one year of teaching experience and either an MLS or a passing score on the approved state exam.

The other 50% either have a library that is run by a paraprofessional, teacher's aide, volunteer, or is completely unstaffed.

Many schools are eliminating the librarian position entirely. THis has to do with No Child Left Behind- librarians aren't required to be highly qualified, so the positions are often eliminated because there is no requirement to do so.

Does that answer your question?

Ann

 
At 6:09 AM, Blogger Paul Pennyfeather said...

ann,

It certainly does. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

I'm still dubious about certification, but it seems that Arizona is trying to cut their budget by hiring para-professionals and others to replace librarians (as "librarian" is now defined).

I'm fortunate. In the Catholic school district for which I labor, a school cannot receive accreditation unless they meet certain requirements, one of which is a librarian with a Masters degree in Library Science from an ALA-approved university. (With no disrespect to the ALA, the last part -- "an ALA-approved university"-- bugs me a little, not for anything currently going on, but for potential mischief in the future.)

However, one Catholic school in my area let their librarian of twenty-five years go, claiming they were eliminating the position. She foolishly bought this, only to see her position filled with a recent graduate of Librarian Grad School, who I'm certain probably earned half, if not less than half, of the original librarian's salary.

I'm not sure why they lied to her. A Catholic school is an "at will" employer in my state; you are at will to leave and they are at will (anytime) to let you go.

As to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (another stupid federal program I dispise), how does it impact library jobs and qualifications? Were the school librarians BEFORE NCLB required to have ALA-approved qualifications? Did NCLB change that? Or were there expectations that NCLB would invoke new (better?) qualifications for school librarians that did not materialize?

But from what you write it seems that in Arizona a librian (to be ALA qualified) needs not only a MLS and some library experience, but ALSO a teaching certification and ONE YEAR OF TEACHING (?!).

No offense, but I'd rather dig ditches than be put through those theory-laden, ideologically-correct re-education camps they make the public school teachers endure.

I do a fair amount of teaching in my job (too much, I think). Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of the librarian concentrating on the books, the media, and the research methods. Leave the rest to the teachers. Besides, librarians are best when they're a breed apart. We don't get that Stepford Wife-look every time a new pedogogical theory comes down the pike.

But as I said, I'm fortunate. I'm spared the latest fads (for now!), but I make less $ in exchange. It's good trade-off.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Annoyed Librarian said...

I was under the impression that one needed both an MLS and an "education" degree of some kind to work in most public school libraries. The strain of getting them both is more than most intelligent and thoughtful people can tolerate. I always wonder why the best private schools in the country employ all sorts of great teachers without education degrees (though sometimes they have PhDs), but for public schools they have to be "certified." Anyway, I'm also skeptical about the requirements for certification for public school librarians (and teachers for that matter). I'm not at all sure that the students are any better served by the "certified" librarians than they might be by others.

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Ann Ewbank said...

In our state, certification doesn't have anything to do with ALA. You take a test of basic knowledge in school libraries and if passed, then you can add a library endorsement to your teaching certificate. If you have an MLS then you can get the endorsement without taking a test. It doesn't state that the MLS has to be ALA-accredited.

Most school librarians in the public system are on teaching contracts and are considered faculty at a school.

I guess I have a different perspective than you, Paul, because I came into the library profession after being a classroom teacher for three years. I returned to the classroom last year after five years as a school librarian.

I believe a school librarian needs teaching experience because the school library is a shared classroom where the teacher and librarian collaborate to teach and where students learn.

NCLB is absolutely silent on school librarians. Before NCLB, individual states/school districts decided qualifications for school librarians. The problem with school librarians not being included in NCLB is that now school districts and states concentrate their resources on filling positions that are required to be highly qualified, such as math, science, and English teachers. If school librarians are not included in NCLB then school staffing officials get the impression that they can cut that librarian and put in a paraprofessional. I am against the idea that anyone can walk in and manage a school library without SOME kind of training.

Again, NCLB has nothing to do with ALA.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Norma said...

Many years ago when I thought about working as a school librarian, I discovered neither my BS in Teaching (secondary) nor my MLS were sufficient in Ohio. I would have had to take additional LIS courses in media (whatever that was in the 1970s--slide projectors and movies, I think) for h.s., and kiddie lit courses for elementary. I took at class at a local college in how to make a slide presentation, but I chose to return to academic libraries, and as it turned out, that was good for me.

Credentialing in any profession, even mufflers and roofing, is a huge business owned and operated by strict gatekeepers.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger Teresa T. said...

I have just found your blog. Thanks!

I must comment on NCLB. As a former K teacher (7 years) and a long-time school librarian (17 years, same school), I must say I have seen the merits of NCLB. Perhaps in schools that already run an efficient program, NCLB can be an annoyance. However, in a school like ours, where everyone was "doing their own thing" and no one collaboration existed, students were being left behind. From my observation post in the library, I have seen marked change in our school and student achievement and feelings of self worth. It has been a gradual and steady change, but our school has turned around. Never mind test scores--I could quote the statistics, which are quite impressive. But the main change I see is the atmosphere in the school. We work as a team. Student achievement is our common goal. No students enter third grade as nonreaders. In the past, I had to deal with nonreader 8th graders. I could go on and on. But I'm afraid I would lose you;D

As for library media-specialists being included in the Highly-qualified requirements, it is necessary! I do not fear for my own job because of my years. However, we have already had some librarian positions in our district filled with substitute teachers, and teachers who do not have library endorsement. One teacher was not performing well in the classroom, but had tenure, so she was put in the library "where she could do no harm." The only reason we have librarians at all is because SACS requires it, and it give the teachers a planning time.

Thanks for letting me add my 50 cents worth.--Teresa
P.S. I am in west Tennessee

 

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