According to the mayor’s letter, the intention is to begin the merger with high school libraries, a move that Bengel says is intended to “strengthen the schools."
I suspect the library community at large sees this as the opening salvo in a plan to abolish school librarians altogether. Fortunately, for Nashville this is the school board's decision, not the Mayor's; nevertheless, that it's even being discussed shows, once again, how little the public understands the nature of school librarianship.
I was even talking to my Dad over the weekend about helping students with documentaries. He looked at me kind of puzzled and asked, "But aren't you the librarian? Are you doing this for fun after school?" AARRGHH!
Here are the questions that leap to mind regarding the Mayor's decision:
1) Is this merely a co-ordination of resources? Will the general public have access to the school collection? Public collections contain considerably more 'questionable" material than a school collection might. Are they now open to more frequent challenges, since they're part of the school library system? And will the general public mingle with students in the school library? How does that affect safety issues?
2) A supposed "benefit" is longer library hours during the day and in summer. Does this mean the school library will be open? Who will supervise? And aren't there increased costs in keeping the buildings open and staffed longer, defeating the original purpose? If it just means students have access to the public library, don't they already?
3) Assuming this is all a way of ultimately removing the school librarians, who will instruct? With all due respect to our public sisters and brothers, they are not trained (or certified) teachers. Of course, anyone who can conceive of this as a reasonable act, doesn't see school librarians as necessary to the instructional process, anyway.
4)How will libraries collaborate with teachers if they're not even in the same building? It's hard enough when you are!
Those are just the questions that leap to mind. I'm sure I'll think of others. This is definitely an issue to watch closely.