Your source for reading, writing and research
We’ve featured many great academic and K-12 librarians in our Librarian Profile blog posts over the past year, but what about public librarians? In many communities, they play an equally important role as the school library — sometimes, they are the school library.
Marvin DeBose, a teen librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia, knows this situation all too well. Public libraries, particularly in ubran areas like Philadelphia that have faced dire school budget cuts, play a crucial role in providing information and educational resources to students.
DeBose, who has worked as a teen librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia for eight years, has seen an influx of student patronage as school budgets were slashed. “One of the problems we have in Philly is that the majority of public K-12 schools don’t have libraries – we are the primary source of information access for the kids,” he said. With a high school right down the street, DeBose has students coming in everyday. “We really kind of operate in the capacity of a school library. Anything K-12 school library media specialists do, I do.”
Given the lack of school libraries in Philadelphia city schools, DeBose makes a concerted effort to form a relationship with local schools to educate students on how the public library can help. The importance of K-12 schools forming relationships with public libraries has been discussed frequently in recent months, and is something DeBose has continued to nuture.
“The relationships with the public schools are good, but some of them have such a bad behavior problem that coordinating visits and programs gets put on the back burner,” he said.
“Our programs depend on the demographic and what type of school it is — we’ve done everything from talking to a large crowd in an auditorium, to going from class to class, letting students know about our services.” DeBose organizes a “boot camp” for ninth graders, where he gives them a crash course on what they can expect when they start high school, and how the public library can help them.
“We find it really helps. When you become a part of the community, the kids come to you, and the library.”
Emily Gover is the information literacy librarian for EasyBib and ResearchReady. In the Philly Cheesesteak battle of Pat’s vs. Geno’s, she goes for Pat’s every time. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.