Sunday, March 08, 2009

We Love School Librarians

All children's writers love school librarians. Why wouldn't you? They love kid's books, they love getting kids to read, they love talking about books. The photo above is from the Northern Sydney School Librarians' Conference I spoke at last week. There were many there who are designated "teacher-librarian", which means they teach classes as well as run their school library. I have never met a school librarian or teacher-librarian yet who wasn't dedicated, enthusiastic and hard-working.

Why am I telling you all this? Because over the past few years, various state and federal governments have gradually taken away many librarians from schools, especially primary schools. If you don't have a special person to look after your library, who manages to buy the books, get them on the shelves, talk to the kids about what they might like to read (with knowledge, because the librarian usually reads as many as s/he can)? It falls back on teachers, who are already totally over-committed with classroom work.

At the conference, I talked to the attendees about poetry. When I suggested that they shelve poetry in with the fiction (instead of the 800s) some of them clapped!! (I thought they might boo me for that one!). It was great to talk to a room full of people who understood what I was saying about encouraging poetry reading and writing, and I talked to many of them later about other ideas. I also sat in on a couple of their sessions, and was astonished at the complexity of library admin these days. I used to be a librarian many years ago, and have things changed!

Now it's barcodes as well as Dewey, and wrestling with a records system that makes the one I use at work look like the easiest thing in the world (but that won't stop me complaining). The sheer physical aspect of keeping books in good condition by covering and repairing is a job in itself. It used to be my least favourite job back in the old days, although I eventually came to see it as kind of meditative and quiet. So three big cheers for librarians in schools, and let's join the CBCA in campaigning for their restoration and maintenance.


Anonymous said...

I still have very fond memories of my primary school library. It was a place I loved to explore, and at highschool, the same venue introduced me to many authors I'd otherwise never have found. In hindsight, the crucial difference between the school libraries and my local was the presence of sci-fi/fantasy, a genre the schools had obviously worked to accumulate given that their main audience was young adult, while the public library had a much thinner range. Huzzah for librarians!

Sherryl said...

I went to a tiny country school, and my favourite time was when the new boxes of books arrived (most of our library consisted of books from the big library in the city, and we swapped about ten boxes full every three months). It wouldn't take long before I'd be sick of the current stacks, and be longing for the next swap.