Gulag Library Night
So I hear about this great program at the local school where the kids can come to the school library a few nights a week and get help in any subject. What a fantastic idea!!! Sometimes you just need a few answers to make the whole thing make sense and sometimes you just don’t want to ask your teacher. So, you pop into open library night, ask your question and be on your merry way. Wrong. My little utopian thought was burst after I was asked to volunteer at library night.
I was looking forward to my library night interaction with the kids. I was curious to see how many kids would show up, interested to see the interaction between the kids and the teachers, and, since I had heard nefarious things about the librarians, I wanted to know how many horns they had sticking out of their heads.
First off, I am a huge fan of libraries and don’t understand why more people don’t use them. However, after library night, it is starting to make some sense. Since I was the newbie adult at library night, I had to get trained. I was very curious as to the role of the parental volunteer at library night. I had this idea we (the adults) would be wandering around helping the kids with research, finding books, discussing different sources for information, and listening to teachers review various topics. Yes I know, very utopian, and about as far from reality as possible.
The students enter the library, and I, the newly assigned library guard, ask them to state their purpose for entering the library. “I’m gonna study math”, evidently is not sufficient information (I was told this by my trainer). Each student had to produce the papers he or she was going to work on so they could be stamped. Prior to producing these papers, the student had to sign in and produce identification to ensure they were a student of the school (wouldn’t want just anybody wandering in and using the library). One kid came in and was a bit intimidated by the process and said he didn’t have any specific papers, but had “many” question about the current chapter. Get out a blank piece of paper and I can stamp it, said my trainer.
As the initial rush subsided, I queried my trainer and ask was it was so important to stamp these papers and have the kids sign in. Well, it turns out many years ago, some kid told his parents he was coming to library night and he never came. So now, we keep records. But what if the kid just wants to ask a quick question and leave, he could tell his parents we was here all night. Oh no, she said, once they check in, they can’t leave until eight. It’s like a modified Hotel California. Students trapped for almost two hours and so much for the idea of coming and asking a quick question. You want to go to open library night; you have to stay for the duration. No possibility of parole and certainly no early release. I need to stop volunteering and discovering the real truth to some of these programs that on the surface sound so generous, but in reality are just an extension of the daytime fiefdoms.