Monday, May 16, 2011

Musing Monday...Near and Dear to My Heart.

What is this week's question for the desk of MizB over at  Should Be Reading ...

This week’s musing asks… 

The local Catholic school board is closing its school libraries, and parents and teachers –and even the students– are in an uproar. Budget cuts demanded that the board choose something to get rid of… they choose libraries. As such, many librarians have lost their jobs. And, the board is moving the books to the classrooms, instead. They feel that it is a good solution. 

What do you think? Should the schools be without an actual “library” room? Is this a good solution?

This question raises two points I have strong positive feelings about...libraries and Catholic schools. Both have played an important part in my life. And the idea that a school would have to close it's school library is terrible. But...
Let's be clear here. Your local Catholic school is paid for by the parents of the students who attend it in the form of tuition, sometimes with a contribution from the parishioners of the local parishes. So on top of the local taxes that they pay to sent the kids of other people to the local public school, they paid this addition fee, which is often a great sacrifice. Money is always an issue. And yet, spending a great deal less per student than public schools, Catholic schools in the US consistently turn in higher test scores and a higher graduation rate. Costs all around us go up all the time. What can they do? Raise tuition and price out more parents, especially in urban schools? Pay teachers, who are already working for less than public school teachers, less? Turn the heat off? Remember, they are not getting paid for by tax dollars but supporting themselves from Mom and Dad and what money the school can raise. When something has to give, what do you pick?
These decisions are not easy.

Now, to tell you the truth, I do not think my grammar school had a library. If it did, I did not spend much time there. I remember going often to my local public library, often, but one in my So if they had one and had done away with it, it would not have effected my reading. I received a very good, basic education in that grammar school and a strong moral background, but I am not sure my experiences there were the basic for my love of books. And it certainly was not the source of my reading material.

In my Catholic high school, there was a library, but most of the time I spent there was in "study time", not so much reading or doing research. Again, I did spend a lot of time in the local public library and that is where I was getting my reading material, as well as doing research for school project in those pre-Internet days. And I feel very lucky that I grew up in a city that, for all it's many faults, still had a good library system. But  most of all, I realize that i am very lucky that I grew up in an atmosphere that so strongly encouraged reading and a love of books!

Now when they start closing the public libraries, I think we should take up the pitchforks. But even here I think the future is questionable. The internet...e-books...if less people use their actual physical library in the future, will the cost become harder to defend? You have to wonder. That, I think, would be a truly terrible thing!


  1. I so agree with you, especially as an (I think!) underpaid Catholic school teacher. Catholic schools have practically subsidized the public school system and provide an invaluable alternative in so many neighborhoods.

    Any loss of library access is a sad, sad thing, but you're right that as long as we keep supporting our public libraries, at least there is something available to everyone. And I'll pull out the pitchforks with you when they start defunding public libraries in my neighborhood, as I think they are in other places. (I know many rural UK libraries have already been shut down.)

    Good viewpoint on this tough question.

  2. When it comes to public libraries, it will come down to what is important to people, what they are willing to fight for.

  3. I've been so afraid this might be the next thing to go in our Catholic School. As it is, they told the librarian she cannot come in on Fridays, and all of her budget money has to be completely raised by book fairs and sales of retired books. As someone who works as a volunteer in the library, I can tell you that some kids with wither if they took it away. This is the only library they have a chance to use, and are in there all the time, their little eyes all lit up by the prospect of their next read.

  4. I agree. Unfortunately, in this failing economy, budget cuts are needed and do affect many.

  5. Sandy, it wonderful that you volunteer!...and it would seem that if it is important to parents as it should be, more of them are going to have to step up, in working or fund prove it.

    CMash, yes sadly it often comes down to money..or a lack of it.

  6. I was ready to be all outraged but you make such good points that I come around to your way of thinking. At least they aren't getting rid of the books!!!

  7. I would hate to see schools lose their libraries. My son felt so empowered in elementary school because he was able to go to the library and select any book he chose.

  8. This is one of society's worst nightmares - to close down the libraries. As it is our library buys new materials mostly as a result of the bi-annual library book sale. I think there are more volunteers than paid help there too. This may be Podunk but at least it is a reading Podunk judging by how much money is raised at the sales.

  9. I agree that it is a hard decision but sometimes cuts have to be made. And if regular local libraries started closing I would be picketing my butt off...that's for sure.

  10. I never had a reading atmosphere at home, I was always at my school's library whenever I could!

    It was very important to my education and today I value that. It's something I'll pass on to my kids.

  11. You raise many valid points, but, as a tuition based school (going to one also, I know how much my parents paid) some parents expect more than that of a public school.

    I think they have to find ways to raise revenue, not cut quality, or they may end up with even more of a revenue shortage.

  12. When I was growing up I went to a Jewish private school. Like most private school my school did not have money. My school had a small library, which they try to expand every year. The truth is I did not spend much time at the library because there weren’t many books to choose from. I took out books and did my research mostly at the local public library. However, if my school had a good library I would have used it all the time. I know that private schools have to cut back on there spending sometimes but I don't think that cutting the library altogether should be one of them. They can cut back a little and get people to volunteer at library instead of paying people to work there but cutting them out completely can make a big impact on some of the students. If they move the books to the classroom they will probably get old and most of the students wont touch them. Also, it takes out the excitement from the students going to the library and picking out their own books and when you’re young the time the students have with the librarian at story time. This excitement helps the kids love books and want to read more. I know there are always public libraries that they can go to but what about the students that can't go often to the library, they are losing out. I don't think the solution is to cut the libraries in the schools altogether, like I said before I think they should cut back fund from the libraries to help with the money problem but not cut the libraries completely!

  13. Hi Caite,

    The closing of libraries, both public and school, is a big issue facing is here in the UK also.

    I believe that they are an invaluable service in the community, but then, so many other things are as well, so what do you cut??

    I can remember my senior school having a library, but as an avid reader they had little in the way of fiction, and as an enthusiastic student the choice of reference books was limited and often out of date, so I found myself using the public library more and more.



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