This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, August 2, 1995

August 2, 1995 - school media centers

[Carol Paul, the Douglas County School's District Media Services Coordinator, had some things to say about my last couple of columns about school and public libraries. I'm pleased to share her thoughts with you. Please see my comments at the end.]

I read with interest my colleague Jamie LaRue's columns of July 19 and 25, 1995, regarding the struggle to maintain school library media centers. It is very true and unfortunate that with the overall underfunding of education in this country, that some school library media centers are understaffed, underfunded, and on occasion, closing. This is occurring, to a greater extent, outside of Colorado. I want to emphatically state, however, that this is not occurring in the Douglas County School system.

In fact, the Douglas County School System views the school library media center (LMC) as the hub of the school. We will be opening three new elementary schools in August which will boast state of the art LMCs including library automation and excellent print and nonprint collections. Fully 39% of the opening school budgets have been allocated to the library media and technology programs. In addition, the designs for our two new high schools and middle school also feature cutting-edge library media facilities.

Not only does the school district invest in new facilities, it also makes ongoing investments in our existing schools LMCs. An average of 20% of a schools' annual budget is spent on supporting our library media programs. Each secondary LMC is staffed by a certified teacher who also holds a Master's in Library Science, as well as a support staff. Each elementary LMC is staffed by 1-2 very capable paraprofessionals, many of whom are educated as teachers.

Although I agree with Jamie's philosophy that "professionalism" is measured by one's enthusiasm and commitment to one's profession, preparation through education and training is also important. We have a significant ongoing training program providing 7 full days of training per year.

In addition to school LMCs, we also have the District Media Center (DMC) which is housed in the Cantril Building in Castle Rock. The DMC includes a collection of computer software, books, kits, manipulatives, novel sets, realia, music, CD-ROMs, laserdiscs, production equipment, and over 3000 videos. We not only serve our schools, but our 3 charter schools, and the 150 registered homeschooling families in our district.
Technology in LMCs has also been a significant focus since 1989, when we automated our first school LMC. We are currently completing our library automation project and will be merging all our databases into a realtime access Union Catalog. This will allow us to search one another's databases and facilitate resource sharing, just like the public library's system. Naturally, this project represents a considerable investment on the part of the school district to the continued success of LMCs.

I concur with Jamie in regard to all of us being in the business of "supporting formal education." We strive to inculcate the love of lifelong learning in our students. We teach them how to use all types of information centers. We hope they make frequent visits to the public library. That is why we have allowed the public library to establish three satellite branches at Larkspur, Roxborough and Cherry Valley Elementaries. We strongly believe in cooperation.

However, there is a distinction between and a need for both public libraries and school LMCs. In Douglas County, we are fortunate to have excellent programs in both arenas.

[I have two comments. First, I was glad that Carol mentioned the satellite libraries -- a truly innovative, cooperative venture based on the notion that shared facilities can stretch taxpayer dollars. Together, we wrote the grant for the necessary equipment; together, we pool resources to swiftly deliver materials to our patrons; together, we manage to provide an unusually high level of service to teachers, students, and the community at large. We have even cooperated on payroll for satellite staff. (This year, the public library has picked up that cost.)

Second, as I wrote in my last column, "Lively, intelligently managed, well-stocked school libraries make for enthusiastic young public library patrons." Thanks to Carol, the librarians who work with her, and a supportive school district, I'm delighted to report that that's just what we've got.

But the fact remains that for the rest of the state, particularly outside the metro area, things aren't so rosy. - LaRue]

No comments:

Post a Comment