March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Slim Pickings: It’s Getting More Difficult To Find a Job as a Children’s Librarian | Letters September 2012

The following is a response to Elizabeth Bird’s feature article “Role Call: Want to work with kids in a public library? Here’s the inside scoop,” .

While there may be children’s librarian jobs out there, and indeed librarian jobs in general, they are few and far between. Plus many of them may be part-time, or downgraded to “assistant” in order to save on salaries. Public service has gone the way of private corporations, wherein job openings require someone to already be doing the exact same job somewhere else, not taking into account the ability to learn if taught. Entry level jobs as a librarian are almost non-existent in my neck of the woods, and it’s difficult to gain new skills because staffing levels are so low that one’s time is stretched thin. So looking for a different experience is pretty much luck. My take is that few public library systems value children’s librarians at the appropriate level. We are the shapers of the future generation, yet many who don’t dwell in our world think it is an “easy”” job and, thus, devalue it. And it is definitely not easy, if done correctly. I also think the article needed to point out that public school librarians in many states must have teaching experience prior to stepping into the library part of the school. At this point in time, it is extremely difficult to get a children’s librarian job that delivers appropriate pay and a great working environment. I hate to be so negative, but that is what I am seeing and experiencing.

Name withheld

The right to read

Debra Lau Whelan’s July 23, 2012 news story for SLJ, “Michigan ACLU, Students File ‘Right to Read’ Lawsuit” reported on a class-action suit filed on behalf of 1,000 students claiming that the state and school district have failed to teach them how to read, thereby violating their rights. The following comments are in response to that story.

If school districts weren’t so overly obsessed with standardized tests and instead focused on teaching and inspiring these children to learn, perhaps low literacy wouldn’t be the dangerous issue it is today. I have family members in the teaching profession, and they often complain that each year the Michigan Educational Assessment Program and all the preparation it requires takes more and more away from things they want to teach the kids. I realize that these types of tests are an essential part of school district funding, but evidence seems to suggest it greatly distracts from teachers’ lesson plans—and, in turn, from kids actually learning the things they need to survive and thrive in the real world. Perhaps the state (and its districts) needs to reevaluate its obsession with standardized testing and go back to the old school way of teaching. This article is certainly a wake up call!

Name withheld

Perhaps the district can counter sue the parents for not being “full partners” in their children’s education. How many parents ensure that children attend school every day on time and homework is completed? How many parents turn off the TV and take away video games until the children are reading proficiently? If the parent is underemployed or unemployed, he/she has time to volunteer in their children’s schools. Do they? It would be interesting to see what the families are doing to support their children’s education besides suing the district.

Name withheld


The following comments are in response to Lauren Barack’s July 10, 2012 news story for SLJ, “Arizona Mandates Stiff Penalties for Schools, Public Libraries without Filters” about a new law mandating that Arizona’s public schools and libraries filter all computers children use or risk losing some state funding.

The biggest problem isn’t so much the need for a filter, but who decides where the line is. Blocking pornography is an easy decision to make, but my school blocks and all blogs regardless of content; if it runs WordPress then it’s blocked automatically—everything from to the Huffington Post. It’s sad and something that we can never stop working on.

Name withheld

Very frightening—government forced censure! What about the freedom of speech that the men of this country have fought and died for? What children view can be monitored without Big Brother’s help.

Name withheld

Phyllis Levy Mandell About Phyllis Levy Mandell

Phyllis Mandell was Managing Editor/Multimedia Review Editor for SLJ.