Competency C - Statement and Evidence
Portfolio of Cathleen Elizabeth Ash
recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
In a society that recognizes and even reveres power and powerful people, it is important to remember the age-old wisdom of Sir Francis Bacon: Knowledge is Power. Libraries, as storage-centers of information, provide access to knowledge. In today's world, where information is a purchasable commodity, it is even more critical to continue to ensure access to information for all people in order to support the democracy in which we live.
Equal opportunity does not necessarily mean providing the same thing for everyone, rather, it implies ensuring that those who need more, get it. A number of schools concur with this philosophy, providing smaller class sizes for struggling students and more opportunities to succeed. The library can support this endeavor in a number of ways: longer open hours, providing information at a variety of reading and comprehension levels, ensuring access to technology not provided in a lower-income home, with no fee schedule.
The charging of service fees in libraries has become a hot-topic for debate, and while some have introduced fees for use of the higher priced technologies in order to survive (costs for printing that cover toner and paper), it is critical to keep in mind that services, provided to all, need to be accessible for all. In some cases, paying for printing is not an option on a low-income budget, but the need for the information in print format is necessary. As the value of information grows, and the costs of the technology needed to keep up with access to it increases, we need to ensure that service to all groups remains free.
In my own library, we have initiated a pay-for-print policy that allows for all clients to be served and also acknowledges those that can't afford it. All students are allowed two free pages a day, and pay five-cents a page for every page after that. This is based on an honor system. In no way does it actually support the printer, toner, or paper, but it does help to defray costs. In the orientation (9th grade), I make it clear to all students: if you cannot afford to pay for printing, simply see me and we'll work it out. In most cases, the library "covers" the cost of printing for the student. In some, the student helps out with a small project (only in cases where a large amount of printing was needed). Overall, this system has worked: all students can print and most students keep in mind they should not waste pages.
In addition to the orientation where I speak of printing costs and how to get around them if you can't afford them, I teach research skills at many levels, from ninth grade at-risk students to the teachers (and parents!) of our school district. I also work with company owners assessing information and providing educated responses to questions. Throughout all of these groups is a common factor: a need to know. This need to know and need to be able to utilize information resources is endemic in our society - but even more so for those who "have less." By increasing knowledge, they gain power: the power to make educated choices, the power to consider what else they need to know, the power to take control of their own lives and destinies and make change for the better.
Grant Applications Review of applications from low-income school models in need of library funding. ELL Annotations To support the school's ELL population, a list of reading materials was reviewed and provided to ELL teachers on campus. The library continues to purchase books to meet the need of all students, including struggling readers and language learners. Korea A Slide Show (using Flash) depicting cultural and geographic views of Korea. Used during a collaborative lesson with a teacher when introducing the book "A Single Shard" by Lynn Sue Park.