Feedback: Letters to LJ, September 15, 2010"Let's support a first effort to get a national certification program in place before we begin to undermine it." Sep 15, 2010
The goal of a national paralibrarian certification, sponsored through the American Library Association (ALA), has been on the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) Paralibrarian Section agenda for almost ten years. ALA and the team that has implemented the new Library Support Staff Certification program (LSSC) deserve thanks and credit for their work, dedication, and support of the paralibrarian cause (Francine Fialkoff, "Credits for Free," Editorial, LJ 8/10, p. 8).
The idea is to get a certification program up and running and to highlight the talents and abilities of paralibrarians nationally.... Under the umbrella of ALA...LSSC may one day be the norm for paralibrarians in all 50 states.
There are issues with the program that will benefit from assessment. At the forefront, as is the case with...any program of this nature, is consideration of cost. Continuing education and recertification are also issues.... LSSC administrators, evaluators, and participants are already working together to review competency requirements to relevant and reasonable proportions. Likewise, portfolio vs. course is a work in progress.
Let's support a first effort to get a national certification program in place before we begin to undermine it. Let's give the program a pilot year and beyond as we work together to develop a significant opportunity for paralibrarians.... Let's keep the certification process moving forward to empower paralibrarians and recognize their paraprofessional status. Let's work together for the benefit of paralibrarians to make the LSSC a healthy, vital program.
-Allison Sloan, 2010 LJ Paraprofessional of the Year, Sr. Lib. Assoc., Reading P.L., MA
Elitist ALA elections
John Berry hit the nail pretty squarely on the head: American Library Association (ALA) elections make no difference ("A Captain, Not a Figurehead," Blatant Berry, LJ 7/10, p. 10). He is also accurate about the current ALA obsession with revenue (...a problem with most professional associations nowadays, but that does not mean that ours has to follow suit).
I would also add that the structure of council elections makes them meaningless.... Those in the "inner circles" get the council positions because they know more of the right people across ALA. This elitist structure could be more democratic if we had a council where one councilor...represents a specific group of librarians (divided geographically or another way) rather than everyone voting for everyone as it is now. It would take a full week to read the bios and vote for every council position with any semblance of really knowing for whom I'm voting and for what they stand! Give me one or two or three representatives whom I can get to know...and I will feel empowered.... I chose not to vote in order to send the message that ALA elections do not matter....
-Gary Fitsimmons, Dir. of Lib. Svcs., Bryan Coll., Dayton, TN
I am disappointed by the brief review of Words: The Foundation of Literacy (LJ 7/10, p. 95). The reviewer, Lisa Richmond...views the book as a "solid if uninspiring reference for educators" and believes that "Lifelong learners seeking an introduction to 'the absorbing world of words' will be better served by popular writers on language...."
My coauthor and I...are highly experienced classroom teachers and professors who prepare teachers and literacy specialists. We have written widely about language and literacy, including numerous instructional texts for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. We take pride in our research, teaching, and writing; our work has been well received nationally and internationally.
Richmond's use of words such as uninspiring and lacking animation to describe our book contradict the observations of seasoned teachers and literacy scholars.... For example, Michael Kamil, professor of language learning and policy at Stanford University, wrote, "The book is a valuable and engaging resource that lays out a thorough background of derivations and other information about words and word usages.... It blends linguistics, discourse analysis, education practice, history, and fun." Jack Cassidy, professor of literacy and associate dean of education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, noted, "What Dale and Bonnie Johnson have written is a wonderfully readable volume about our language-about words...."
Many other literacy education scholars and experienced teachers and professors have written statements about Words.... For example Charline Rowland, literacy professor at West Virginia University, calls the book "a significant foundation for literacy.... The instructional activities strongly support the teaching and learning of vocabulary in meaningful, joyful ways." These teachers understand that the targeted audience for Words...is teacher educators and their students....
-Bonnie Johnson, Human Development & Learning, Dowling Coll., Oakdale, NY