Re-emergence Of The Contrarian Librarian

, , , , , | Learning | July 14, 2018

(I am a substitute teacher. Most teachers leave strict rules for me to follow, but even if the lesson plan is vague, I never let kids leave the classroom without a call from the office. My only exception is going to the library. I was allowed this as a student, and I think encouraging literacy is paramount. But then, this happens at a middle school.)

Sixth Grader #1: “Miss, I’m done with my work. Can I play on the computer?”

Me: “Your teacher said you must either do your work or complete work from another class. I will allow you to read, on the honor system, if you are done with school work.”

Sixth Grader #1: “But I don’t have a book.”

Me: “Okay, you may take the hall pass and go the library. Since it’s right outside this wing, you can have ten minutes.”

(Several other students want to go, so I allow the original and a second to go, saying the others can go in twos when they come back. Ten minutes later, they return with books and sit down, and I send out the next group. They come back after only five minutes with no books.)

Me: “Didn’t find anything to read?”

Sixth Grader #2: “No ma’am, the librarian spotted us and wanted to know what we were doing. When we told her, she asked how the other two had checked out books, because she hadn’t seen anyone.”

Me: “What?!”

(I turn to the first two who are reading books.)

Me: “Did the librarian check out those books to you?”

Sixth Grader #1: “What does that mean?”

Me: *flabbergasted* “When you went into the library, what did you do? Did you see another teacher or an adult?”

Sixth Grader #1: “We went in, saw a stack of books, each took one, and came back.”

Me: “Oh, dear God, you stole books?!”

(I then ask all the students in the class how they thought libraries work. Imagine my shock when not one of these sixth graders knows that to get a book from the library, you have to have a librarian sign it out of the system for you, or that you must return the books. I explain the process to them, and take back the books from the other students to return later. But the story doesn’t end there. The books they have “stolen” are Pre-K level, barely ten pages long. When I visit the library on my break to explain, I have this conversation with the librarian.)

Me: “Have the children not had a class on the library yet?”

Librarian: “The students do not have classes in the library, or about the library.”

Me: “Why is that? And why are these books for toddlers, not middle-schoolers?”

Librarian: “The students struggle to read big books, so we have books on their level. And we don’t allow them in the library, because they will destroy the books.”

Me: “Wait, not only are the books way below level, but they can’t even come in here? What kind of a place are you running?!”

Librarian: “I don’t appreciate your tone, ma’am! I work hard; I’ll have you know I’m in here every other week. Most schools can only get a librarian in once a month!”

Me: “My God, it’s the Apocalypse.”

(This is why I’m looking for a job outside of education, instead of moving from sub to full-time. I don’t want to teach kids to NOT read!)

The Inattentiveness Of The Contrarian Librarian
Attack Of The Contrarian Librarian
Fall Of The Contrarian Librarian

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