Tag: librarians

Spokane Public Schools Turn a Cold Shoulder to Librarians

Remember your favorite school librarian?

In Spokane, Washington, future students might grow up not knowing what a librarian does.

Two weeks ago, the Spokane, Washington Public Schools superintendent announced that librarians in public schools will be laid off before the academic year begins again in the fall, although the libraries themselves—generally very large rooms with hundreds of books and programs and resources that students need assistance navigating—will remain.

 

Library

Image vIA eLLA’S lIST

 

Students will still have the opportunity to visit their school’s library, even if there’s no one to help them use it. As for library services, teachers will be expected to perform the librarians’ old duties—in addition to being teachers—while their students are visiting the library, according to The Spokesman-Review.

Just to be clear, school librarians often have degrees in library science and have been thoroughly trained in the instruction of research applications that library patrons have the option to use. The void left by a mass-migration of trained school librarians cannot be filled by giving the keys to teachers who already have full-time jobs outside the library.

 

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Librarians are not guaranteed replacement positions in the public school system once they have been ousted from their jobs, although some librarians with suitable experience might be placed as teachers in the schools and communities that need them most. 

Specifically, the district’s choice to cut librarians out of the budget comes after the announcement for a $31 million deficit for the year; generally, across the country, more and more school districts are eliminating librarian positions, and more librarians are switching to part-time work. 

 

Library Closed for Budget Cuts

 

 

Another recent article from The Spokesman-Review claims public schools with more low-income students will be hit far harder by the layoffs than schools which serve more middle-and high-income families; in other words, more librarians will be removed from communities where students are already receiving subsidized school lunches, and from which librarians and other school faculty are leaving en masse for ‘better’ schools and neighborhoods.

Teachers are seeing salary increases with the elimination of librarians, with some employees receiving a 10-15% bonus.

 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Librarian Receives Bravery Award After “Gun” Incident

Sometimes heroes wear capes; other times, heroes advise us on and provide us with a substantial amount of quality literature. These highly educated,  index-finger to the mouth—” shush, quiet in the library” champions have been incorrectly labeled “librarians.” More like Knights of the Meticulously Arranged Book Shelf. These words of high praise for, in all seriousness, a very underappreciated profession, are in reaction to the actions of one Sandra MacLean. MacLean is a librarian at the Fort William Library in Scotland, whose swift response potentially saved multiple lives.

 

 

On May 25th, 2017, Sandra Maclean was working as a supervisor at the library when a man entered the premises with what looked like a handgun. This was a situation she knew—she’d read about it in every Stephen King, Lee Child, James Paterson, Agatha Christie, John Grisham etc. novel. Reacting “calmly and discreetly” MacLean evacuated the building and called the police. In addition to this, she wisely and courageously locked the library so the antagonist could not escape. The police arrived and apprehended the suspect. The twenty-six-year-old man carrying a gun replica was jailed for eighteen months.

MacLean  has recently been awarded a Police Public Bravery Award for her courage and quick thinking.

 

Sandra MacLean receiving her award from Ch Supt George Macdonald

Image via Bbc.com

In an interview with BBC,  she said:

“In many ways, I don’t feel like I deserve an award but that in no way diminishes my gratitude for it. What I did at the time didn’t feel especially brave, it was simply the obvious thing to do to make sure the library was clear of people and that nobody else could get in. Receiving the award put that whole day into perspective with the wider police investigation and I would certainly like to thank the officers for how they handled the situation when they arrived.”

In the same article, Police Scotland’s Highlands and Islands divisional commander George McDonald said this of Sandra’s actions:

“Sandra’s calm and professional response to an undeniably frightening situation helped ensure the immediate safety of the public and her staff. Her initial actions also prevented the incident from escalating and allowed police to bring the situation to a swift conclusion on arrival without creating any wider risk to the public. She deserves a lot of credit for her response and I was delighted to present her with this award to recognize the bravery of her actions.”

It’s often we read stories about regular people exhibiting intrepid, moral fortitude in threatening situations as a result of an innate and spirited instinct; however, rarely do we see that happen in our daily lives. I’ve never doubted my librarians and neither should you.

 

Image via Bbc.Com

 

Featured Image Via Pinterest.com

Budget Cuts

‘Book Poverty:’ The Epidemic of Closing Libraries

March 7, 2019 is World Book Day, and fewer children than ever are reading. Budget cuts and library closures are serious threats to childhood literacy—and marginalized communities have been impacted the most severely.

 

Cartoon depicts library budget cuts leading to closings

Image Via Cagle Cartoons

 

Libraries offer more than just books—if books are ever ‘just’ anything. Just a whole world small enough to fit into your backpack? Just a $2,000 plane ticket for the low low price of $0.00? Just a work of art as enduring as any hanging up in a museum (and one that you can take home without being arrested)? Libraries are a safe community space offering accessible resources, like adult education, language classes, and research databases. These programs are open to seniors, children, and disadvantaged members of the community—an opportunity that exists regardless of socioeconomic status when so few opportunities do. Will libraries in wealthier communities have more funding? Yes. But libraries remain an integral community feature.

Or, rather, they would if they were staying open.

 

Library Closed for Budget Cuts

Image Via Baristanet

 

In the U.K., the number of library book loans dropped from 255,128,957 in 2011 to 157,387,109 in 2018—a shocking 38% decrease that, unfortunately, isn’t as shocking as book-lovers might think. In the wake of 700 library closures since 2010, Library Campaign chair Laura Swaffield said there was only one surprise: “that the decline in book loans isn’t even larger.”

When the libraries go, so do the librarians: over 700 full-time library employees faced termination last year alone. While 3,000 volunteers have taken their places, this is a stopgap measure and not a solution. The problem is the drastic budget cuts, and—like so many other problems—money may be the only solution.

It’s either the solution, or it’s yet another problem. Given the £2 million proposed cuts for 2019, it looks like the latter. In the U.K., only 25% of eight to eighteen year olds read daily. If that statistic sounds dire, it gets even worse: that’s a full 20% drop from just four years earlier. As libraries lose money, children lose interest in reading—because some of them lose access to engaging, affordable books. This phenomenon, “book poverty,” describes the grim reality for disadvantaged young people: one in eight poor U.K. children doesn’t own a single book. Childhood literacy is widely known as “the single most important factor” in the success of a child’s education; yet when it comes time for budget cuts, it’s considered one of the least important criteria for funding.

 

Encyclopedic volumes on benefits of libraries, brochure of downsides

Image Via Cagle Cartoons

 

Featured Image Via K-12 Insight.

Badass Female Librarians Delivered Books on Horseback in 1930s

If you are someone who is excited about female empowerment as I am, then you’re going to love this! According to History Daily, during the Great Depression, unemployment rates soared, and in turn people endured extreme poverty, so many had little access to books.

At the time, Franklin Roosevelt was trying to resolve the Great Depression, and his Works Progress Administration created The Pack Horse Library Initiative to improve American literacy and therefore chances of employment. The librarians were mostly women who lived in the counties they served. Public schools in the local areas contributed books, magazines, newspapers and any other reading materials available.

The ‘bookwomen’ were paid $28 a month and were responsible for their own food and supplies, and horse. These librarians travelled over mountains to isolated homes—through blizzards and mud to make sure everyone had a book in their hands. The women would ride as far as 120 miles, and at times if the locations were close by, they would walk with their horses, holding on to their reins. In 1943, the program ended because employment increased massively during World War II, and nearly one thousand pack horse librarians had served 1.5 million people in forty-eight Kentucky counties!

 

Check out the photos below!

 

image via historydaily.org

 

image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

See more amazing photos of these heroic librarians on History Daily!

 

Featured image via atlasobscura.com
william morris wallpaper

Researchers Accidentally Discover That Rare Books Are Poisonous

Rare manuscripts can be fascinating to study, but when it turns out that the material of said manuscripts can be poisonous, well things can get a bit awkward. [Warning: Graphic photo below]

 

A Research Librarian and Professor of Physics at the University of Southern Denmark accidentally discovered that three rare books they were studying were in fact poisonous. In an article published by The Conversation, the duo described their surprising findings. While using X-ray technology to try to decipher the the text on the bindings of the 16th and 17th century manuscripts (older manuscripts used recycled parchment), the researchers found high levels of green arsenic on the covers. 

 

The findings came as a shock, especially regarding the volatile effects of arsenic. As the duo notes, exposure to the extremely toxic chemical can lead to, “various symptoms of poisoning, the development of cancer and even death.” 

 

 

arsenic effects

Image included by research team shows effects of green arsenic | Image Via Wellcome collection

 

 

Though it now widely known that arsenic poses significant harm to those exposed to it, centuries ago it was used quite regularly in paints, clothes, book covers, and even applied to wallpaper as a protective layer. 

 

While the use of green arsenic in wallpapers and materials seems to be left in the past, the horrifying stories of its effects are still being discussed today. As for the arsenic-laced books at the University of Southern Denmark, they are now being kept separate from the other books in the library and stored in operate cardboard boxes with “safety labels in a ventilated cabinet.”

 

Though readers may assume that manuscript pages are safe to handle, it isn’t always a guarantee, the team notes.

 

“One wouldn’t expect a book to contain a poisonous substance. But it might.”

 

 

 

Featured image shows wallpaper design by William Morris