I had the opportunity yesterday to hang out at one of the local high schools and teach a group (well, five groups) of English students about databases, identifying good sources, and general research skills. All of this was done in a 50-minute class period, so it barely skimmed the surface. It seemed well-received, though, and I think the students came away with a few tidbits.
In the course of the day we got to talking about their school library. They have a librarian one day a week. One. Day. That is a travesty.
The students also talked about the paraprofessional (who they assumed was the librarian) and mentioned how cranky she is. In her defense, the teacher talked about how this woman is now responsible for policing the library (and computer usage), and that there are fewer “labs” and so the library’s usage is exploding.
So here we have a high school with an overworked paraprofessional, who is trying to shelve books and police computers and answer reference questions as best she can, while the scope of her job has gotten so big that the woman is perpetually cranky. And we have a librarian available to the students on only one day, and it’s a day in which their classes are divided up into 40-minute increments, so the students have at most 40 minutes a week to talk to a librarian.
And we wonder why the research skills of incoming college freshmen are so weak.