Monday, February 27, 2006

Student Services vs. Academic Program

To see where school libraries fall in the organizational flow chart of a school is a more interesting matter to me as an accreditor than the services and programs that it provides the community. I often start not by reading the self survey report, but by reading the organizational flow chart. From here, I can draw conclusions at how the school values and percieves its school library. I always get an impression on the role of the school library in the translation of the school's VMG when I read it. Most often, the problems and low evaluation of school library services and programs spring forth from this management scheme.

So far, most of the schools I've been to for accreditation place their school librray under Students Services. A few school libraries belong to the Academic Program. What is the difference?

Let me first identify the services or departments under Student Services. These are, Guidance and Counseling, Food and Health Services, meaning the canteen and the clinic, Student Discipline and Student Activities which are clubs and non-acedemic offerings of the school. The library often finds itself in this group based on the belief that the primary clients of school libraries are students.

True. I could not argue more. But, when a library proclaims that it supports the total formation of the student and the achievement of academic exelence, the library is not solely a service department for students. Like it or not, school libraries dabble on academic functions much like any subject or content area department. Now this is the reason why there are a few librarians who report directly to the school principal or the academic coordinator.

As an accreditor, I respect the organizational chart. My next step is to go beyond the rules and confines of the flow chart and see how the library is providing services to teachers and students. Because, even as it is classified under Student Services, librarians must assume the role of a teacher to better services for students. I look into the basic programs that it offers, the collection's depth and breadth versus the population, and how the staff is maximized to attain departmemtal and school wide goals.

I asked my chairman one time about this issue and she was wise enough to tell me that as long as the school library functions fully well for the community it serves, it does not matter where it is categorized. I have my own beliefs much as I find wisdom in her words.

(To be continued...)

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