In the December issue of The Media Center Messenger, my article was about an experience my grandchildren and I had at a public library. The point of sharing that experience was not to cast aspersions on the public library branch or the library system as a whole. I shared that experience to highlight the importance of being mindful of customer service in all our libraries. Several people who read that article felt as if I were publicly attacking that library and they took exception to my article. For that I am truly sorry and deeply regret that I wrote the article in such a way that the readers misconstrued the purpose of the article. Obviously the article was not as well-written as I thought or as I had hoped.
My grandchildren and I have visited that particular library branch and others in that library system and the children were treated with kindness, respect, and enthusiasm. Both girls love visiting the library. For the five-year old, a school field trip to the public library is one of her favorite outings.
It was never my intention in that article to draw attention to any one library nor was it to vilify a particular library or the people who work there. In sharing that experience I sought to highlight the universal problem of lapses in customer service. We have all experienced such lapses, perhaps at the grocery store, at a doctor’s office, at a library, at a school. I have often written about the need to be mindful of the public face we present when patrons—students, teachers, parents, community members—visit our school library. How children are treated in any library situation colors their perception about libraries in general and will oftentimes affect how they view and/or use libraries when they become adults. Unfortunately, many library media specialists are working for administrators who do not understand or appreciate the importance of a school library, which, in many instances, may come from negative experiences in libraries during their growing-up years.
At this point I can only say mea culpa, mea culpa, or in today’s vernacular, “my bad.” I have written a letter of apology to the director of the library system. I hope that this one instance will not color the many accomplishments made during the last ten years on behalf of school libraries in South Carolina or negatively affect any future initiative undertaken to advance our school libraries.