Staffing Cuts – How to Deal?

I’ve heard from a few districts in Georgia about cuts in staffing for next year. Some are losing their media clerks altogether while some are losing them half-time. If you’ve been following the library news over the past year, you’ve also heard about many states cutting librarians too. With these deep cuts going on, I couldn’t help but wonder about those librarians planning for next year who are going to be in a completely different situation. Either they have no budget left or no staff or both. My heart goes out to those in that situation and all I can think of is, what can we do to help? Librarians have typically been the lone wolf at the school. Because of this, we’ve created a wonderful community (online and in person) through networking  that allows us to tap into ideas when we need anything.  So now, I’d like to begin a conversation that sparks ideas about how librarians will handle this challenge next year.

Rather than speak about the philosphical problems with all these cuts, and how wrong it is to cut anything from our library programs (that’s already being spoken about by more articulate people in the field), I’d like to work on the practical side of this situation. These decisions have already been made for at least the next year, so meantime, we have to figure out how we’ll run our programs at the best possible level in the situations we’re in.

The way I see it, the day to day scheduling is going to be the biggest problem. Here are some ideas and considerations that I’ve collected from various librarians:

~Have certain days for teaching classes in the library and other days for individual students checking out
~Or certain time of day (mornings=classes, afternoons=individual checkouts)
~Much heavier use of volunteers (if you have them)
~Other school staff members helping with shelving (an hour here, an hour there)
~Training others in the building to help out (an hour here, an hour there)
~More student helpers
~More use of self check-in & out
~Students learning to shelve their own books
~How do we maintain the “flexible schedule” standard and still teach classes in the library?

Of course, an elementary library will have different challenges than a middle or high school library. The reason scheduling is such a big factor to me is because it directly affects instruction. If we are to continue having the positive impact on student achievement that we have through instruction, then we cannot turn into a check-in/check-out only library. But if the librarian is the only one in the library at any given point, that does happen. That’s what’s scary to me. It will be tricky to avoid that. It will be overwhelming for many to maintain the balancing act. So, do we let some things go? Like having more self check-in & out? Letting volunteers have more responsibility? Less worry about having nice, neat shelves? Or having books shelved in a timely manner? I welcome your comments and ideas. We’re all in different situations, so what works for one may not work for another. However, I know for a fact that you all have wonderful suggestions that some other librarian will love hearing about. We all want to do what’s best for kids. Let’s talk about how to do that.

Pamela Hill
New Hope Elementary
Dalton, Ga

Posted on May 17, 2010, in Advocacy, Ideas, Standards. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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