Media Center Guidelines
Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:
In defining District
Policy for specific concerns and it's accompanying Rules and Regulations, and
Procedures sections, the district is able to clearly communicate to all of the
parties involved what is expected when people use school facilities and what
appropriate and inappropriate use means. These policies should be known when you
are putting together your procedures package so you are not in conflict with
district policy. However, procedures for your school media center should not be
as lengthy nor as formal and complicated as these "adult" procedures
In addition, district policies, generally speaking, do not extend to specific things like book or magazine circulation, but only address building and some equipment usage. Circulation of most materials is usually limited to current school patrons, though it can extend to parents under special circumstances. It can also extend to other students within the district if you choose to participate in interlibrary loans. Only when your procedures are in place will this issue be defined for all patrons at your school. When you have questions, the district media center can advise you about acceptable circulation lengths, fines, hours of operation, and other areas where you may want procedures defined for your school.
Students vs. Faculty and Staff vs. Parents -- Considering that the use of facilities and materials may be different for students, for faculty and staff, and possibly for the general public, they may each need a different set of procedures. Procedures need to be defined for student internet use that follows ASD Policy 5225. Teachers should also follow the copyright guidelines set up in ASD Policies 6164 and 6165. Circulation policies for groups of items and users are easy to set and change from within the Alexandria program. You should also take responsibility to make sure the teachers in your building understand the district media check out, delivery and pick up schedules, and the policies regarding use of district-owned and school-owned equipment.
One must take care that favoritism or discrimination is not shown to any specific group, but that control is still maintained over the facilities and materials. For example, teachers may want to halt circulation of certain items if their classes are planning big projects based on those items' subject matter. However, other students not in those teachers' classes may have interest in that subject, also. You will need to decide whether the teacher's or the individual student's desires come first.
If your administration chooses to rent out school facilities to public groups, the expectation may be that they will also have access to equipment and facilities. There are some guidelines for this in District Policy 1330. It is better to discuss this with your principal and establish a level of understanding here before the situation comes up. This is just one of the many reasons why it is important to gain support from your principal for media center procedures before communicating them to your users.
Procedures For A Positive and Effective Program -- Most people who become involved in administering school media center programs have a talent for organization and order. This is usually a big plus when dealing with things, but it can be a detriment when dealing with people. For example: It is district policy that because Alpine School District Elementary Media Specialists are not required to be certified, that the classroom teacher remain in the Media Center with their students. Making this clear to teachers as part of your policies, following district policy, can eliminate having to be the enforcer. Trying to force too much order on human beings can lead to negative interactions and bad memories that may follow a student all the way through his or her learning career and sabotage attitudes about becoming information literate. It may also cause negative feelings among teachers and result in a definite lack of support for the media center program.
Procedures and guidelines that are punishment-oriented rather than using natural consequences will eventually prove uncomfortable, if not impossible, to inforce. This is not to say discipline should be lax or equipment and materials should be allowed to be abused, but it is also true that modern media centers are rarely places of calm and absolute quiet. We need to be sure the procedures we formulate are positive and enforceable. Also important is to have as few procedures as possible and still maintain order. Finally, make sure your procedures do not reflect any personal favoritism or bias that you may have.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Comparisons -- It is often helpful to see how other schools have formulated and reinforced their procedures and guidelines. It may give you ideas you have never considered and could help establish consistency throughout the district. It will also give you justification and a history if you want to make some changes in your media center procedures and guidelines. You may be able to overcome a problem in seconds that another school took months to work out simply by following their example. However, remember that every personality is unique, and what one person can "get away with" will never work for you. Some people tolerate noise levels differently than others. Some people's idea of order is another's idea of "squeeky clean" or "a total mess." Take caution in simply copying another center's procedures because they sound good; they must also feel good to you before you can enforce them.
The Professional Approach -- You can often get a great deal of help from professional magazines or internet user groups for problems that may have bothered you for some time. Make sure to look into the "Question and Answer" or the "Letters To The Editor" sections of periodicals. These areas are often places you can dig up nuggets you can use in establishing practical procedures for your facility and materials. By the same token, if you have an innovative idea, don't hesitate to share it with your peers. Who knows? You may save someone else loads of aggravation and help to increase their professionalism at the same time. Once a sharing atmosphere is created, you will receive more helpful ideas than you will ever be able to give.
Questions to Consider
As you begin this assignment, think about the following:
Alpine School District, "Use of School Property and Facilities" ASD Policy 1330.
Schjelderup, Bill. Alexandria Professional Library Management User's Manual. Salt Lake City, UT: Companion Corporation, currently held edition.
Stein, Barbara L. and Risa W. Brown. Running a School Library Media Center. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman, 1992.
Yesner, Bernice L. and Hilda L. Jay. Operating and Evaluating School Library Media Programs. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman, 1998.