Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

Halifax County and Bedford, Nova Scotia basically cut out librarians all together from the junior high libraries. They wiped out about 200 positions total, including five circuit teacher-librarian positions and 35 library assistants. James B. Casey had some good thoughts and questions on this issue. He wrote:


School Librarians everywhere should take heed. And so should Public,
Academic and Special Librarians. If the Public Education Establishment
can marginalize, minimize and neutralize their own commitment to provide

Library Service in support of K-8 Education, who will pick up the tab?
Who will be unscathed?

The Public Libraries? Schools in Halifax save $11.5 Million via budget
cuts
while Halifax Regional Library had only $8 million in its total budget
for
1997-98 according to Bowker\'s American Library Directory for 1998-99.
Can any public library system, regardless of size and quality,
compensate
for the unwillingness of public schools to provide library service even
in support of the homework and study of their own pupils?


The Academic Libraries? Where institutions of higher education provide
comprehensive library service in support of their curriculum from
Jr. College to University, what happens when K-8 Public Schools
have seen fit to go from minimal to zero commitment? Is the
Internet all K-8 youngsters need beyond the classroom? Are
youngsters to be relegated to the status of \"unworthy\" or second
class patrons when it comes to their education?


How about ALL OF US? When a new generation of Information
Illiterates move into High School, College and into the Workplace
unfamiliar with basic research techniques, independent study and
learning \"outside the classroom box\", we\'ll ALL be paying a price for
such cuts.


Those of us in Libraries and in Library Associations have stood by
contentedly and even cooperatively while the Public Education
Establishment has conveniently separated the terms \"Education\" and
\"Library\" for the early and middle grades and to a large extent for
the secondary grades as well. Union contracts may protect some
of the school library employees, but it won\'t protect the rest of us
from the long term affects of such massive cuts.


James B. Casey --- My own views as a public librarian and
Member of ALA Council until July 12, 2000.

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