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BFTP: Media special-itus

A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post May 7, 2008.

As I visited my district's libraries this week, I noted that everyone waa actively working to get all books back since school ends for kids this coming Thursday. As librarians, we spend 35 weeks  getting books into kids hands and then about a week getting them back. Happily, I did not encounter the kind of attitude displayed in this old post...

A fellow Minnesotan teased me a little about the name of ISTE's special interest group for library media specialists - SIGMS. He teased that MS was a disease, not a profession.

I began wondering - might it be both? Do we suffer from media special-itis when one reads this on LM_Net:

In our district we have a policy which says that I keep the money tendered for lost books for 2 weeks and then turn the money in to the district treasurer.  I had a child return the lost book after that 2-week window.  So, I did not return his money.  Well, doesn't his mom call saying he should have the book back or his money back.  After counting down from 10, I said "okay" and gave him back the lousy $3.99. If it had been more, I would have had the district treasurer deal with her.  But, for that piddly amount, I picked my battles... BUT I walked right over to the child's classroom and told him and the classroom teacher that the library was not a bookstore! And this is NOT going to happen again!

What a great deal - for only $3.99 this librarian bought at least $399 worth of ill will and bad feelings from a student, a parent, and, BONUS, a classroom teacher. If the teacher complains to the principal, this might just be a negative PR home run.

Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant writes about his "not so friendly library," and reminds his readers:

Seth Godin reminds us that every interaction with a customer / client / patron / stakeholder / visitor is a marketing interaction. It’s an opportunity for us to build or erode our brand, a chance to increase or decrease the trust and goodwill of the people with whom we are interacting.

"Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face" is a trite, but in this case appropriate, expression.

Other symptoms of "media special-itis?"

 Yes, you can get this image on a t-shirt here.

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Reader Comments (2)

I completely and totally agree with the sentiment here. Libraries, and particularly school libraries, should be a welcoming place. Every interaction with a student is an opportunity to teach them the value of libraries and librarians. However, as a school librarian, I also know how piddly our budgets are and how we are also suppose to be teaching student responsibility for their actions. No, I don't think we should have unfriendly policies and attitudes like described above, but it's certainly reasonable to expect students to pay for lost books and to do so in a timely manner and with respect. It's beyond frustrating to get to the end of the year and have 40 students in a school of 700 that still have books out and have not paid for them or returned them. Personally, I choose to approach this scenario with positive interactions, rewarding good behavior rather than punishing the bad, but I do send bills home and call parents of students who have outstanding books and fines. That being said, I would never refuse to refund money if a book is returned, even if it's two years later. Well, assuming the book is in good condition... you wouldn't believe some of the things that get returned sometimes... well, maybe you would.

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Hi Deborah,

Teaching kids a sense of responsibility is certainly a noble end. The trick, of course, is doing it in a way that keeps the library and librarian a positive force in the kids' lives. I guess it is all in how you say a thing. I just hope our $3.99 books don't cost use thousands in funding one day when kids turned off on libraries become school board members, principals and teachers...

I appreciate your very rational comment!


June 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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