[DWJ] Petition on school libraries

Elizabeth Bentley elizabeth at wardrobe-on-the-web.com
Sat Jan 6 17:40:52 EST 2007

On 6/1/07 22:26, "Farah Mendlesohn" <farah.sf at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 06/01/07, Elizabeth Bentley <elizabeth at wardrobe-on-the-web.com> wrote:
>>> You
>> seem to be saying that higher education, while presumably valuable for
>> teachers is unnecessary for librarians. I hope that is a misinterpretation
>> on my part.
> Actually Elizabeth, I'd make much the same point about inflation of
> teaching qualifications. There is little evidence that academic
> qualifications per se make better teachers, and at my own level, we've
> only become a PhD profession in the UK in the past fifteen years--and
> in our case, our profession has been downgraded as our
> "qualifications" have risen.
I think I would point out that I said professionally qualified - which means
recognised by the erstwhile Library Association, now CILIP. This does not
necessarily mean even a first degree, let alone a higher degree, though it
does normally nowadays.
> I'm still not wholly convinced, but in part I suspect that's because I
> came from an urban school in which the school was in no way central to
> life, and the school library was one of about four wthin walking
> distance. The situation may be different elsewhere.
> I'm still uncomfortable about the petition though, it's a very rigid
> demand given that the proportion of a school budget that a
> professional librarian would absorb would vary wildly from school to
> school: a librarian in a school with fifty teachers, fine, but a
> librarian in a school with ten (as my primary school had)?
I think I included both primary and secondary as an initial bargaining
point. I agree that it is unlikely that many primary schools would be able
to include a fulltime librarians on their staff (though there are a few
doing so nowadays, and it is virtually the norm in the US), but having
access to a librarian should be a possibility. But I do think most secondary
schools should be able to afford a fulltime librarian - my school has only
500 students, so we are amongst the smallest in the country.
> Now, if it argued that all Local Education Authorities should make
> provision for professional oversight appropriate to the needs of the
> school, I think that would make a lot of sense. A librarian coming in
> to regularly advise a small school is a good use of resources.  Once
> upon a time Birmingham did this, but it got lost in one of the many
> shake-ups/budget cuts.
I agree totally that this should happen. One of the problems is that such
support tends to be focused on the primary schools, and secondary schools
with no librarian are left out in the cold.

Elizabeth Bentley, Head of Learning Resources
Northbrook C of E School, London, UK
mailto:elizabeth at wardrobe-on-the-web.com
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