The website Lifehacker this week had an article titled: The Six Biggest Media Center Annoyances (and How to Fix Them) and I got excited thinking those smart people were going to help school media specialists become (even) more popular. The "media center" being written about, however, was the home amalgamation of TV, amplifier, speakers, and various tuners, DVRs, etc. - not school libraries.
But it is a great title that I have modified slightly for clarity to use for this post. I am putting on my library patron and parent/grandparent hat in writing this post...
Six biggest library annoyances and how to fix them
- Unfriendly/unhelpful librarian. I am always shocked when I see kids treated as an annoyance rather than as a reason for being by any library staff member. You fix this by firing the librarian with the negative attitude and replacing him/her with someone whose personal mission statement includes service to children. The librarian should be a primary reason for coming to the library - not the reason one avoids it.
- Book fines. Libraries with policies that seem to emphasis getting books back instead of getting books out, drive me nuts. Find positive ways of helping kids and teacher show respect for other library users by the timely return of stuff. A book sitting on a shelf is worthless.
- Computers "for school use only" policies. School libraries should encourage personal learning not just academic learning. OK, a library may have a limited number of terminals and priority should be given to school work, but there is absolutely NO reason for a library workstation to sit unused if there are students wanting to look for information of personal interest. This is a simple policy change. A computer sitting unused is worthless.
- Material checkout restricted by age or reading ability. It drives me insane to hear about my grandsons book checkout being restricted to the "easy" book section or set of preselected materials when they go to the library. At the very least, librarians should allow a child to check out one book of personal choice from anywhere in the library along with the required book.
- Poorly weeded collections. A badly weeded collection is not the sign of underfunding but of professional incompetence. If funding is a problem, collections should be getting smaller, not older. The only fix for old, cruddy collections is a dedication to weeding - and a information campaign to staff about why weeding is imperative.
- Excuses. There is no excuse for a library program that is not getting better. Problems with budget, staffing, facility, scheduling and administrative support are not good reasons for not providing kids and staff access to good reading materials, Internet access, and information literacy skills. It is our personal toward our programs, not our situations, that determines our efficacy. Get your head around it.
So what are your biggest annoyances and how would you fix them? Oh, feel free to creat a similar list for your tech director or tech department. If you're going to dish it out, you better be able to take it as well, my mother always warned me.