At a Poor School, Time Stands Still on the Library Shelves

February was Black History Month and students at the Mount Vernon NY Edward Williams Elementary School, which is 97% black, were assigned to do reports on their own personal African-American heroes. They ran to the school library looking for biographies of Oprah Winfrey, Josephine Baker, Alex Haley, Ossie Davis, Rosa Parks even...none were available.

Apart from two books on Frederick Douglass and Duke Ellington, which were quickly grabbed up by students, the only book remaining was "Negro Pioneers" published in 1967. Story here from the New York Times.

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But just as important as teaching reading, he believes, is teaching a love of books. "A library should be the center of the school," he says, "A library should inspire. A library should be seductive."

I like this principal. He sounds like he's willing to pour the time (and expense, if he can) into this library. It certainly sounded like he's already done some good things for the school.

I don't envy the media specialist there. I am currently weeding our reference collection, and I'm just mortified at some of the decisions I have to meet. I can imagine the guilt she feels keeping an over decade old encyclopedia on the shelf with two volumes missing, but that sad truth is you "do what you gotta." Best of luck to her.

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