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Crisis planning event - well-done

Last evening Chris Harris and Buffy Hamilton presented at an online event hosted by Gwyneth Jones and Carolyn Foote in the "TL Cafe." Check out the full recording here.

Harris gave a harded-eyed look at possible reasons for reduction in library positions (It's not just us geting cut in hard times!) and Hamilton presented some innovative ways to communicate with staff and students. (Next time I am going to figure out how to block the chat feature since I found myself distracted and missing too much!)

One thing that still bothers me is that I have seen no empircal evidence that the profession actually IS in a state of crisis. Certainly there are high profile cases of individual districts reducing library staff, but is this actually a general trend? I have often wondered here in Minnesota that for every librarian cut in a rural district with declining enrollment, if there isn't another librarian hired in a district with increasing enrollment. But I don't know and I couldn't prove to a legislator that there is a general problem in Minnesota (or in the nation.)

For what it's worth, here is a link to a document I developed in this now six year long "crisis:" When Your Job is on the Line." A bit more prosaic than the exciting materials presented last night, but then I am a realist at heart.

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Reader Comments (4)

It was great, but I was also distracted by the chat. I can't wait to go back and listen to the archive.

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany Whitehead

Ok, ok, I admit that I quite often derail any train of thought in the room. Sorry :(

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTori Jensen

Hey Doug:

Here's a little bit of evidence from Michigan:

"Statewide, schools employed fewer than 1,100 media specialists in 2007-08, the most recent year with data available, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The figure translated into a ratio of just one media specialist per 1,556 students, a 10-year high student caseload. In 1997-98, there was one teacher-librarian per 1,077 students.

Meanwhile, the national average has remained relatively stable, even improving slightly. In 1997-98, there was one media specialist for every 939 students nationwide; in 2007-2008, it was one for every 906 students."

This quote is from a good story we were able to get our union newsletter to write about the situation - The February 2010 issue of MEA Voice has a cover story with sidebars entitled: "Vanishing Act: What's happening to school librarians?" - found here:
(Click on the February 2010 link for a pdf)

The really sad thing is that with our current school funding situation here in Michigan, we continue to loose more school librarians and teachers.

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Staal

Hi Tiffany,

In school I always had to sit by myself since I visited with my neighbors and never listened to the teacher. I guess we never really grow up!


I wasn't helping either, Tori!


Thanks, Tim. This is great data and I will follow up when I get more time. I know California also has a dismal librarian to student ratio.


April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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