In the news: PPS libraries

10:04 am

The Oregonian‘s Kim Melton summarizes Susan Stone’s February presentation to the school board on the sorry state of our school libraries. Melton also shows how PPS stacks up to neighboring districts. The library assistant at my house wants you to be sure to read all the way to the end.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Libraries, Media

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8 Responses

  1. Comment from enoughsugarcoatingalready:

    It’s about time attention is drawn to the sad state of PPS libraries, although it sounds like it may be some time before progress is made, unfortunately.
    I am wondering what the short-term solution is? Next year, if my child gets in to the middle school she applied for, I have vowed to volunteer in the library ( which is entirely ran by volunteers ) at least one day per week, however..will I even have a clue as to what I’m doing? Would it be wise to suggest that,for short-term purposes and at the bare minimum, PPS offers some sort of informal training/ workshop for schools that do rely soley on volunteers for their libraries? – or would this allow PPS to buy even more time and encourage the problem to sit on the back burner even longer? I am in no way suggesting that this is an adequate ” alternative” to a real librarian/media specialist, however, if we already know the funding won’t be increased for who knows how long and this is “just the way it is” for now…I am just trying to think of what, at this point, would be best for the students at these under-serving schools. I know as a parent, I would feel a little more comfortable knowing that the people volunteering at my childs school library had some sort of training, even if it were minimal- other than no training whatsoever. Or, would it be best if I try to “educate” myself( take my own classes ) and instead, rant to PPS about the dire need to improve our libraries and now- not later-?-

  2. Comment from Ruth Adkins:

    enoughsugar, the supt’s proposed 09-10 budget requires a minimum of 20 hours library staffing at all K8/K5/MS buildings. Kids in grades 6-8 (whether at K-8 or MS) must have at least 5 periods of “enrichment” per week; PE is required and library counts if the staff is licensed.

    The staffing process at each school is now underway, so we’ll have to see how this overall directive pans out in terms of actual/specific offerings at each building. That level of specificity is what I am looking for as the board’s finance committee combs thru the budget in the coming weeks. The final budget will be voted on May 4, and there will be budget forums in April where folks can come and give input.

    As I understand it, the issue with volunteering is not that PPS can’t train library volunteers, but now that the entire library catalog is online, it links into the confidential student info in the eSIS system, which legally only staff can access.

    That was a great article and excellent quotes from Susan, Nancy and all! The only thing the article left out is that one of the products of the assessment project is a detailed staffing plan for where we *should* be (eg certified librarian AND assistant in each bldg) as well as a multi-year process for building this into the budget gradually (assuming there is no major infusion of new funding). We’d be farther along on the library staffing plan for next year if it weren’t for the economic crisis and cratering state funding. Given that we are facing at least $14 million in cuts, I am pleased that we are making at least the first step toward consistent/equitable library staffing.

  3. Comment from Susan:


    The answer to your question is to educate yourself. PPS library assistants are not trained by PPS in any way – with the exception of how to use the PPS catalogue. An electronic catalogue is a wonderful piece of technology that tracks materials within a collection — how they are used and by whom. I am assuming your question regarding PPS training library staff (paid or volunteer) was more about how to support students and teachers as opposed to check in/out library materials.

    See below for the job description of PPS library assistant. I doubt anyone applying for a library assistant position has had to meet #3, #4 or #5 under qualifications. Note #11 under Duties/Responsibilities. That means that library assistants do before/after school, lunch/break duties (i.e., meet buses, supervise playgrounds during recesses), which means the library is closed during those times. So 20 hours per week of a paid library assistant can turn into much less time a library is actually open for student/teacher use. Unless, like the school your child applied for next year, the library is run by volunteers, which means it then can’t use the one support PPS offers its school libraries: the electronic catalogue.

    The job description for a PPS library assistant is:
    Position summary:
    The library Assistant I is responsible for the clerical operations of the library/media center. The Library Assistant I, in the absence of a licensed media specialist in the library/media center, shall work under the direction of an appropriately licensed teacher and/or administrator. The Library Assistant I performs clerical tasks related to the acquisition, processing, cataloging, maintenance and record keeping for all library media materials. The person supervises work of student assistants and student use of the media center. The Library Assistant I works in support of the classroom teachers and implements a building level library instructional program.
    1.Prepares orders for and processes, stores and circulates all media center materials.
    2.Assists students and teachers with the location of materials.
    3.Organizes resource materials requested by the teaching staff.
    4.Maintains the card catalog for the library media center.
    5.Prepares forms and reports.
    6.May supervise other clerical personnel and student assistants.
    7.Assists in classroom instruction relating to use and operation of the library and supports actual instruction of students by classroom teachers or the media specialist.
    8.Performs a variety of tasks such as maintenance of book circulation, inventories, storage of media and prepares typed reports and correspondence as required.
    9.Operates office, audiovisual and computer equipment.
    10.May attend District scheduled workshop and inservice programs.
    11.Performs other reasonably related duties as assigned.
    Minimum qualifications:
    1.High school education or equivalent.
    2.Additionally, a minimum of 90 quarter hours of college work is desirable.
    3.Previous library work experience (school library or public library) is required.
    4.Demonstrated ability to comprehend the educational levels at which students are operating and relate library material to these levels.
    5.Demonstrated ability to guide and assist students in the use of the library.
    6.Knowledge of library organization and procedures.
    7.Demonstrated ability to train and supervise others.
    8.Possesses strong clerical aptitudes and abilities including accuracy and a moderate speed in typing (minimum 40 w.p.m.).
    9.Ability to use a computer is essential both to assist students in the media center and to manage library records.
    10.Working knowledge of or willing to acquire the skills to automate and maintain circulation, inventory, on-line search and card catalog systems.
    11.Demonstrated ability to exercise careful judgment, diplomacy and tact in the performance of assigned duties, and in dealing with students, staff and the public as demonstrated by personal references.

  4. Comment from Nancy R.:

    enoughsugarcoating, those of us who work in libraries love our volunteers. Thank you in advance for your desire to help. Even though the database (VIA, PPS’s check-out and catalog system) is confidential, take a look at the PPS card catalog — I use it constantly, for my students, kids and myself, too:

    It’s open to all and requires no log-in. You can sort by individual school, entire district, author, book title or keyword. (Can’t reserve books just yet, but it has lots of other features.)

    Ruth A., thank you for all of your hard work to help ensure minimum staffing at the libraries while shooting for bigger long-term goals. I am speaking for a number of people here when I say thank you for thinking of us.

    Susan, whew!

  5. Comment from Steve Buel:

    I don’t get it. Beaverton staffs each of their libraries with a certified librarian. We could do the same. I don’t buy it is a matter of funding — it is a matter of priorities. This isn’t the only issue which PPS has prioritized wrongly. But it is certainly one of the most important. This is more of what I call an illusion of equity. For instance, if one library is staffed 20 hours with an assistant this is actually one fourth of the FTE at a library which has a fully certificated librarian. But the illusion is we can now say every library has library time available.

    I think it is sad that people have to hold back on supporting the need for full library funding because they are afraid of offending the powers that be by pointing out that the lack of library funding is a travesty. Sad, sad, sad.

    I am not against making progress let’s just make sure we understand what making progress means. It means they don’t get it yet. It is kind of like when your child who helps on a farm always forgets to take off his muddy boots and tracks the mud through your house. Finally you get him or her to remove the boots but he or she still brings them in the house and neglects to wipe the mud off before coming in. He or she is MAKING PROGRESS. But the real connection to reality isn’t there yet. Welcome to PPS’s school board.

  6. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Steve B., if you want to look at the way Beaverton does things — and I’ve been pushing PPS to do so for a couple years — it goes way beyond putting a higher priority on libraries.

    Beaverton School District (BSD) has managed to maintain what PPS calls “enrichment” at equitable levels at all of their neighborhood schools through years of declining funding due mainly to two factors: size and balance.

    BSD has created large schools with balanced catchment areas and does not allow neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers. This means that all neighborhood schools are about the same size and can afford similar academic offerings.

    Carole Smith’s team is poised to do just this with our high schools, and maybe if it works, this vision will be extended downward to middle and elementary schools.

    I think it’s fair to ding the school board for not pushing for this kind of vision sooner — after all, the Beaverton example has been staring us in the face all these years — but Ruth Adkins deserves a lot of credit for successfully pushing (in the mean time) for some minimum level of staffing in all of our libraries.

    We will have to acknowledge that moving toward a “Beaverton model,” with all its programming equity, means closing schools. This goes against what a lot of neighborhood schools activists, including Adkins and all our friends at the Neighborhood Schools Alliance, have fought for in recent years.

    So it’s not just about libraries. The larger connection — between size, balance and equity — is definitely hard to get. But I’m cautiously optimistic that the current budget crisis will force some leadership in that direction. It definitely seems to be coming from Carole Smith, if not directly from the school board.

  7. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Steve,I am not actually a big proponent of the Beaverton model necessarily because I have always been a supporter of having a good solid neighborhood school. But it seems to me that if we can afford libraries in some schools (with sitebased funding) then it is not necessarily a budget issue, but a priority issue. I have always believed that a school should be centered around the library. Not just for the skills that are taught, but because encouraging children to read helps many children in so many ways. And getting kids in good books is the key to them enjoying reading. So I have been a big supporter of libraries ever since I tried to sell the school board on this idea in the 1970’s.

    It is nice that Ruth is finally starting to see the light on this issue and has been helpful. Of course, the article I encouraged Jennifer Anderson to write on the sorry state of the libraries was the catalyst in the whole mess. Seems like a little bad publicity goes a long ways in helping political people see the light.

    You have more faith in the H.S. redesign potential than I do at this point. Remember there are five starting points. And no guarantees there will be real equity when they are done. In fact, the school board has never bought the idea that real equity needs to be a goal.

    There is a long list of recent “improvements” that have not been particularly successful, i.e. k-8’s, the hiring process changes, the counseling additions, the school closures, the addition of small numbers of arts FTE’s and a myriad of important topics which continue to worsen because they are not recognized as major problems even, let alone addressed. Sorry, just can’t get all that excited about the job the school board is doing — with the exception of David Wynde and his financial improvements, good stuff there.

  8. Comment from enoughsugarcoatingalready:

    Thank you to those who offered such thoughful recommendations in response to my library volunteering question..I am actually looking forward to it all and hope to spend the next 5 months ” prepping ” myself, even if the school should get at least part-time hired library help ( I may even follow on this path even if my child doesn’t get into her desired school-sounds like there are plenty of school libraries in need of help ).
    I have to agree somewhat with Steve about the high school redesign- I hope it isn’t just another case of putting tape on that leaky faucet, or more of a “re-salvaging” plan as opposed to a real “redesign”, with bold but sensical changes.