Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Closing School Libraries Spells Illiteracy

They are closing the library in my daughters’ elementary school.

They are closing all the libraries in all the schools under the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board. All Elementary and Secondary schools will no longer have a library.

Schools without libraries?

I can’t fathom that.

I can’t tolerate that!

I can’t tolerate the thought of my daughter’s in grade 3 and 4 not being able to go into the school library this year and checking out books like Charlotte’s Web, or The Mouse and The Motorcycle. Books like Where the Red Fern Grows, and Old Yeller.

These are just a couple of titles that come to my memory from when I was their age – reading amazing and exciting stories that made me want to read more and more and more.

But that will be gone.

I remember at a very young age walking through the bookshelves of my schools library looking for great books – and the excitement I felt when I found a really good one.

One that really stands out in my mind is a book I don’t even remember the title of. It was about a boy who would have been my age who tried out for the neighborhood baseball team – and how hard he practiced fielding ground balls with his Dad and hitting with his best friend – and how excited he was when he got his uniform after he made the team.

That book inspired me to love baseball even more.

Because that’s what books do, they inspire young minds – opening their brains up to ideas and opportunities – and experiences.

But that won’t be readily available to little kids in our local Catholic schools.

They plan to put some books in class rooms – pretty much deciding what the kids will read.

Who wants to read what you’re told to read?

I remember in high school, getting my hands on a copy of Catcher In The Rye. I read that book in the back seat of our family car as we travelled on a family vacation.

They will also be pulling out all those great books that teenagers use for research for various projects. In place of the libraries will be a common area for digital media devices – like computers.

Okay, we are in the 21st century now. And computers are definitely a powerful source for research. But we are nowhere near the point yet where computers and DVD players can even remotely adequately replace a card catalog to help kids find information based on the Dewy Decimal System.

Wikipedia is not yet a source of truly undeniably reliable record. And for as much as I love what Google has added to the Internet – I am not so blind as to know that Google searches also return information you probably don’t want your child to see.

How is this possible?

Why are they cutting out the libraries from these schools? Why do you think? This is not an exercise in advancing learning facilities to a new academic level of excellence – all though those that are pushing this change through will describe it as so.

It’s money. Or the lack of it.

Enrollment in Catholic schools in our county is down.

So instead of cutting other things – like sports teams – or better yet – take a very hard look at your administrative costs - instead, they chose what appears to be a big expense – on paper – a quick and easy choice looking at the list of options sorted by cost – libraries sit at the top of the heap.

I love sports, but I would never suggest them be more important than school libraries. And I am not proposing firing people of value.

Certainly not people as valuable as school librarians.

This is stupid.

It doesn’t take a genius to know the Catholic Church has been hurt in recent decades. Some of their decisions have just been … well … either arrogantly or blindly derived. As a result the number of parishioners continues to fall. But this time is not the time to go into all that. That’s also been in the headlines enough.

It just makes logical sense that a decline in members of the Catholic Church also results in a decline in the Catholic school student enrolments. And to me it does not make sense to reduce the quality of education that children will get in your schools by taking the libraries out.

If you were new to a community – and you had the option of two schools – which of those two would you likely choose for your kids best interest? A school with a library?

“Duh” – as my little girls so commonly say to me.

It would certainly be a pretty strong factor. It might even deter you from moving to the community.

If you happen to live in Windsor or in Essex County – and this issue is important to you – I strongly encourage you to visit the Save our Libraries Holy Cross Catholic Elementary LaSalle Ontario Canada on facebook to learn more about what you can do.

As well, I encourage you to sign the online petition.

I encourage you strongly to do something.

If you live in Windsor Essex and your kids don’t attend a Catholic school – I urge you still to do something, because these kids are the next generation of your community too. And I can’t imagine that a decision to remove libraries from schools is going to help make your community stronger.

Windsor and Essex County has had enough economic struggles that we are just now starting to recover from.

This kind of academic stupidity isn’t going to help.

We have some new decisions to make in our house.

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