Somewhat Controversial Topics and How We Deal With Them
There are many issues that we face as school library media specialists where decisions must be made based upon our convictions and passions. I’m thinking of things such as how we develop and administer our reading incentive programs (AR, RC, etc.), our procedures for informing faculty of proper copyright law compliance, processes for purchasing and organizing foreign language materials in an English-speaking society, or “do you tell Johnny’s parents the name of the overdue book he has out?” The policies and procedures we develop to address such issues are often open to our own individual philosophies regarding the matter (in the absence of state or system mandates).
Over the course of the next several months, I will present “burning” issues of major interest to all of us and present a variety of opinions on how these issues might be addressed in your media program. While the decision of how to handle these issues is sometimes left to the discretion of the LMS, there is some measure of research and publication on the topics that might provide insight into how others address those specific situations. I will share some findings on the following topics:
- Should classroom experience be required in order to become a school library media specialist?
- Should all materials in a foreign language be shelved together based on the language (such as all Spanish), and should funds be budgeted to purchase materials in that language for students who are in the school speaking only that language? Or, should students be able to access materials written in English only in an effort to have them adapt to English more quickly and be less dependent upon their native language?
- What is the best way to introduce/reinforce copyright compliance among faculty and students?
- In schools where fixed scheduling is practiced, what steps can be taken to convince the administration to move toward flexible, or “flix,” scheduling in the LMC?
- What is the best plan for implementing and administering a reading incentive program in the schools; what role should the LMS play in this program administration? How should these books be organized within the collection?
- Should we follow the ALA position that parents should not be informed of titles their children have checked out due to privacy laws? Or, is there a time when parents should know about what their children are reading?
- Should media specialists who are provisionally certified be hired, or should only the fully certified candidates be hired?
- When the Principal requests that you remove a book from the collection, and due process using the system Reconsideration Policy has not been followed, should the LMS remove the item without hesitation?
These are a few issues we discuss in my Administration course and students research these topics with oftentimes very interesting findings! Over the next few months, I’ll report on one of these topics each month and encourage you to respond to the postings with thoughts and “position statements” of your own. I look forward to presenting, and hearing, interesting dialog on these topics!
Phyllis R. Snipes, Assistant Professor
University of West Georgia