School district protests removal of books by untrained ‘helpers’

booksVia Boing Boing came this story, of a school district in Wisconsin whose librarians were appalled to discover that untrained volunteers were sent in to ‘help’ librarians clear out less-used books, and they were making a mess of it.

The workers were reportedly removing many books which were published before 2000 or were not being checked out regularly, and a few librarians reported returning to work to find boxes of literary classics boxed up for donation or disposal.

From the article:

“There is no possible way for to me to explain tonight all of the criteria that librarians consider when developing a library collection,” said Kathleen MacAvaney, library media specialist at Gifford Elementary School. “The basis for this is the curriculum of a graduate level class, one that we’re all required to take.”

The district, meanwhile, said that the books were all taken as part of a ‘routine, annual process’ and that the district provides ‘assistance’ to schools who lack the time or personnel to do it themselves. The schools counter that their librarians are specifically certified for this sort of activity and better understand how people use the collections and what books are truly needed.

I can see how the district may have had good intentions with this one, but I have to side with the librarians on this one. Our library specialist retired some years ago and has not been replaced. The library has been turned over to admin staff and parent volunteers, and none of them have a clue how to run it properly. So the three days a year I get recruited to help shelve books before the summer are a tedious, time-sucking free-for-all as the gym teacher and other specialty staff try to deal with it. I would love to get an actually trained and qualified person in there, and I am sure they would do a better job than we are!

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