A recent My View column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution apparently has a history.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, 3 May 2006: Library not just for homeschoolers
I read the recent guest column that contained several harsh things about the library system and library management and the author’s perspective as a home school parent (“Respond to needs of home schoolers” AJC Gwinnett Opinions, April 26).
My overall concern is that the writer has taken a parochial approach to this situation.
The chain of events seems to have started last year when the library discontinued its DVD loan program because of significant theft.
- Library Journal, New York, New York, 26 October 2005, Plagued by Theft, Gwinnett County PL Sells Kids’ Videos
“We thought we were losing DVDs, so we did an inventory, and we realized that 43.8 percent of the children’s DVDs were missing.”
The situation caused the library staff to sell part of the collection, which local homeschooling families found to be a hardship.
- Gwinnett Daily Post, Griffin, Georgia, 19 October 2005, Library delays decision to sell off DVDs
Last month, the library board decided to remove the remaining children’s DVDs from their shelves and sell them off through Web sites like Amazon.com and half.com. Those sales were halted Tuesday morning after complaints from parents who use educational videos to home-school their children reached Dan English, the chairman of the library’s Board of Trustees.
English said when the board voted to end the circulation of DVDs during their September meeting, he was not aware that videos and educational materials would also be removed.
- Gwinnett Daily Post, Griffin, Georgia, 15 November 2005, DVDs back in play
Board Chairman Dan English said the September vote was correct based on the research, but he also admitted the board was now “much closer” to understanding how important the children’s DVD collection is to home-schooling parents.
In January the library adopted the policy of limiting the number of items that could be checked out.
- Gwinnett Daily Post, Griffin, Georgia, 10 January 2006, Library system to limit number of items for checkout
“We’re not a Barnes & Noble. We’re funded by taxpayers, Oxendine said. Gwinnett€™s checkout limit was shown to be more than triple the limits of other metro area library systems. Board members said the generous checkout limit created an opportunity for thieves, but was also too excessive for loyal and well-intentioned library patrons.
Although there are no articles from the Gwinnett Daily Post about it, apparently the controversy continued. The archives of the Atlanta Journal-Constituion have articles concerning the Gwinnett Library:
- 19 April 2006, Library dispute flares, settles — Executive director apologizes; board chairman resigns: “A spat last month between Gwinnett’s library director and a home school mom could have ended with an apology and a reprimand. Instead, the incident escalated this week with a room full of lawyers and enough hard feelings to fill the Library of Congress.”
- 26 April 2006, Library tries to serve all students: “The library strives to provide materials and services that will assist the approximately 145,000 public school, 6,000 private school, and almost 3,000 home school k-12 students in locating the best information in the most convenient manner possible, both in the library and from remote locations.”
- 26 April 2006: Respond to needs of home schoolers: I am not suggesting that the library stop purchasing popular titles such as Harry Potter. They could purchase fewer copies; 500-700 copies of one title seems to be overkill. The library’s strategic plan to “compete with local bookstores” is not what I would consider a good use of my taxpayer money.
Which brings us to the Library not just for homeschoolers column. I’ll be watching the Google alerts to see if Gwinnett county library stories continue to appear.
My one observation about the ‘not just for homeschoolers’ point of view, is that even though homeschoolers may be only 2% of the schooled population, or even 1% of the county population, what may be important is what portion they comprise of the library patron population.