Parent volunteers doing checkouts
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Due to budget issues, our school library is going to a half-time position. Our principal wants to fill in the gaps by using parents to check books in and out to students. Are any of you doing this in your schools and what issues do you have?
MrsHouseLibrary is the actually paid (elementary school) librarian in our house.
Training someone to check books in and out requires maybe 15 minutes - from logging into the app to having the person be fairly self-sufficient.
She's more in need of people to PROPERLY shelve the returned books more than anything else.
MrsHouseLibrary orders the books and tons of administrivia, and when the books come in, I usually 'process' them for her. I especially like covering the dust jackets with Mylar protector sheets.
Seems to me that this opens up a whole can of insurance-and-liability worms (not to mention the variable nature of the parents' knowledge, library-wise.) I wonder if the principal wants parent volunteers to do half his job for free, too?
In my wife's school district, all volunteers have to have a background check done before they're allowed to volunteer there. If one twists off and grabs a kid or yells at one, the volunteer is escorted off the property and isn't allowed back - hasn't happened yet.
Check in/out isn't even 1/10th of the job. MrsHouseLibrary has to teach 5 classes each week as part of her responsibilities as a Librarian. The State looks at school librarians as "support staff"; the school district still classifies them as teachers. If the Principle could get volunteers to handle some of her work, I'm sure she'd be happy to let them. She's got a very stressful job.
Her Superintendent was the ONLY (as best we know) superintendent in the State who voluntarily, significantly cut his salary (and gave up other perks) in order to preserve teacher's jobs.
But will a kid, call him Jonas, want to check out the real books Jonas wants if Jonas knows that this kids mother (the volunteer) knows his mother and may just tell Jonas' mother what Jonas is taking out if the volunteer doesn't quite approve???????
>2 I especially like covering the dust jackets with Mylar protector sheets. I wouldn't let that information go out too far!
Is MrsHouseLibrary a credentialed librarian or a library aide? All of our elementary school libraries are staffed (if there is paid staff) by a library clerk which is not considered a teacher.
She's got her Masters in teaching, and art, and taught elementary school for 19 years before getting her library certification (not sure what it's called...) 9 years ago.
I second DanieXJ's post (which is not to say that I don't agree with the other points, I do)! The best part about librarians (for the most part) is that we aren't judgemental, and we would rather a kid check out a book on, say, safe-sex, then end up with problems down the line. Parents are no good when it comes to education, by-and-large. I was pretty much going to post the same thing, I'm glad somebody beat me to it.
I;m a little lost in the first post. Is the library hours being cut in half or just the librarian position? It's a bit confusing to me.
My concern would be students being watched over by parents without a "school official" (or teacher or another member of staff.) being present. That would be a liability concern I would think.
What grade level are we talking about also? I know once we were in junior high and high school, check in and out were actually filled by students 90% of the time. Parents who volunteered at the school were placed elsewhere if and when they actually showed up.
As to staff/teacher classification, our high school librarian, while the position was considered a staff position, was considered a teacher. She spent 3 or 4 years on the board of the state teachers union before switching over. (The previous district she was at, the high school was so small, she also taught a couple of classes.) I don't think she would have taken the position if her tenure, benefits and pension hadn;t carried over. :)
Good point poster #5. The volunteers need to know student library records are not open for discussion...
>10, but even if you tell parents. They're still parents. And if the volunteer knows Jonas mother, just because the volunteer has been told that she can't tell Jonas' mother that he's taken out, The Hunger Games, or Twilight, or if this is a high school, something about sexual orientation or depression or alcoholism (I'll stop with the examples now), that doesn't mean that her 'mother-ness' (which is a good thing a lot of the time) will override what she's been told and she'll tell Jonas' mother what he's been reading anyway.
Anyway.... I know that I'm painting the situation with a wide brush, and that there are plenty of mother/volunteers out there who wouldn't say a word. But I firmly believe that what you take out of your local/school library should be between you and your chosen diety, and that the only time that anyone should reveal what you've taken out is with your permission (or, unfortunately with a warrant or valid subpoena).
Now, I do have to say, if it's a busy school with lots of check ins and check outs, the whole situation sorta can sort it self out, 'cause I know that some days I can barely remember what day it is after a shift, remembering specific titles/subjects and the individual that goes with those books would make my brain drip out my ear I think....
Check in/out isn't even 1/10th of the job.
But it's clear that the Superintendent in the first post thinks that volunteers at the check-out will make up for slashing the hours of the librarian in half - that'd be my point.
I have used parent volunteers in the past, but not much b/c every school I've been at has not had a whole lot of volunteerism. The "Jonas" situation never happened, but then I'm an elementary.
I've done everything in my power to make myself indespensible to the school both as a teacher and a librarian. Thank goodness my principal has noticed...it helps that she was previously a teacher with whom I collaborated a lot with. I've made sure that every teacher and administrator knows that I teach the state-mandated essential skills in my classes.
But I'm no fool...I know that when budget cuts are made, the first thing on the chopping block is the library, followed by art and music. God forbid we cut a coach or an administrator.
Oh come on people....let's get real! Suppose the school had a budget to pay someone to assist the librarian in checking out books to the students, and the school board hired a (HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS) PARENT. Does the fact that the parent receives a paycheck automatically bestow some kind of blessing on their ability to be trained, to be held accountable, and to respect confidentiality?
I've worked in all volunteer settings (schools, libraries, social service agencies) for over 40 years, I'm a degreed (MLS) librarian, veteran volunteer administrator, mother, reader, blogger, you name it. Right now I'm the "pro-bono" librarian overseeing an all volunteer staff in our town. If we had to pay salaries we wouldn't have a library.
Volunteers can and should be trained to deal with whatever the issues are--I'm not sure (except for the age old "They're taking away our jobs" whine) what the actual issues are, but as a society, we need to get over the 'professional=paid' syndrome if we ever hope to balance our budgets and still provide good service.
Yes. A check does 'bestow' on people the fact that they are to be held responsible. When people at my library get hired there are actual rules/policies that they have to follow when it comes to patron privacy. If they break them, they can be fired (everyone's at will). For volunteers, sure, they can promise up and down all they want, but what can we do to them if they break that??? They're volunteers, we can not ask them back, so then they'll go find somewhere else to volunteer.
I'm not saying that volunteers don't understand and can't keep confidentiality as well as paid workers, I'm saying that if it's a volunteer who has never been, never wants to be a 'professional' librarian and who's just helping out, they don't always adhere to it like a librarian or paralibrarian does. I've seen it. Hey, if some guy comes up to me and asks where he can find books on gay-ness his name will never pass my lips, period, when people ask me questions whether they be the next JD Robb book or books about more sensitive issues it's between them, me and their chosen deity. But will he go up to someone who he knows is a mother of his friend, who may think that his mother knowing he's gay is more important than words on a piece of paper she signed???
Not to mention I've said this in other threads in the group. Why do librarians have to be the ones to volunteer all the time. Are you going to ask the lawyers to 'get over' the professional=paid thing, or the doctors, or the teachers, or the nurses, or the MBAs???? No, they'd all laugh their butts off if they were asked that, so why the hell should Professonial (MLS) or Paralibrarians do for free what we should be getting paid to do????
I'm not afraid of volunteers, they're awesome, they shelve, and they help out soo, soo much with the fundraising it's not even funny, but if they want to check in and out books, then they should apply for a job, in most places it doesn't take a whole lot of schooling. Or if they want to answer reference questions then they should go through the same years of schooling that I did (get into the same debt that I did) and absorb the amount of trust that people put in Ref. librarians to answer their questions and not judge, and not blab it to the whole town.
fwiw, my mother volunteered at the elementary school where my brother & I went. She never told me what others were checking out and she was an adult that children went to with questions. (adults, too, sometimes) It wouldn't bother her if a child checked out something with a more adult topic or above their reading level.... more reading was good! (bad grammar, but the point is made)
It depends upon the person. I've met people who didn't understand that other people had a right to privacy for their personal information.
Choose the work that the volunteers do carefully & explain policies. If they cannot follow policies, then they can't volunteer.
and "they're taking away our jobs" isn't a whine- it's a fact when professional degreed librarians are fired in favor of nonprofessional staff or volunteers. it's insulting to be treated like anyone who comes in off the street can do your job. and it's insulting and condescending to say we're "whining" about it.
>15 Are you going to ask the lawyers to 'get over' the professional=paid thing, or the doctors, or the teachers, or the nurses, or the MBAs???? >
If they were paid by the state ...
Even the ADAs and DAs get paid, judges too (a lot of whom were lawyers first), and no one asks them to volunteer. Not to mention the state hospitals.
But, I apologize, I've taken off on a tangent. So I'll cease and desist now.
>no one asks them to volunteer
Um, actually I believe many or most states require pro bono work to remain on the bar or to get on there in the first place:
Attorneys and judges doing pro bono work isn't really parallel to parents doing librarian work anyway. I think the parallel you're looking for is: why don't the parents of criminal defendants help out at the courtroom by taking over some of the duties usually performed by the attorneys or judge?
The "age old "They're taking away our jobs" whine" isn't a whine as far as Unions in Australia are concerned. It's taken very seriously. Unfortunately the whole process isn't quite as transparent as it should be but I know my union delegate keeps a very close eye on what the volunteers are doing in my workplace.
IMO a principal who removes library hours from a qualified library expert has no respect for literacy.
We once had a principal who would bleat in the newsletter and at assemblies about fostering good literacy skills all the while slowly killing the school library by lowering the budget. Eventually all there was was an aide for 1 hour a week for a school of 200 kids. My own kids didn't visit the library for three years.
Here in California principal's don't really have much say in the budget. That's mostly set by the school district but a lot of money the district gets from the state is in what they call categoricals that can only be spent on one kind of thing.
How about coming at the issue from another angle?
Lets say that Jonas wants to check out some stuff about sex ed, because he's curious. Now, Jonas' mom's best friend Gayle is working as a parent volunteer, checking out titles for the kids. Gayle has taken her volunteer work orienation perfectly seriously, she will never let a whisper of a checkout slip past her lips, but all little Jonas is going to see at the checkout desk is HIS MOM'S FRIEND.
Suddenly, that safe library space to check anything out apart from your parents isn't so safe and separate.
It isn't always a case of people actually doing wrong or being judgemental. Sometimes even the appearance or possibility that they are doing so (or that they could do so) is enough to cause a person (especially a child) to not be willing to check out what they actually want.
Of course there's always the possibility that the school librarian might be his Mom's friend (but the chances are much less than with parent volunteers).
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