Friday, July 13, 2012

Case Study No. 0443: Staff of Sun Valley High School Library

Bleeding Libraries
A dramatization of what will happen to school libraries when poorly conceived budget cuts close libraries
Tags: Libraries
Added: 2 years ago
From: lauralee2002
Views: 3,371

[scene opens inside a school library, filled with students and bustling with activity]
NARRATOR: Libraries are fundamental to student achievement.
[the camera focuses on a young girl reading a book]
NARRATOR: The collections support the curriculum, and provide rich and varied reading resources for all students and teachers.
[cut to a male student running into the library (apparently to hide from a gang of bullies), then cut to a flier which reads "Library Rules: Do something productive. Allow other people to be productive. Be respectful of other people and their property"]
NARRATOR: School districts throughout the United States are closing libraries.
[somebody suddenly steps on the flier, as it's revealed that students are carrying armfuls of books out of the library while the alarm sounds]
NARRATOR: The value of the library assets of a large school district can exceed 300 million dollars.
[more people are shown carrying library property (such as whiteboards, projectors, tables and chairs) out the door without consequence]
NARRATOR: A closed library without a librarian will be stripped of resources and fall into disrepair.
[cut to a shot of the previously bustling library fading away to reveal that it is now barren of both students and resources, as people are shown making out and spraying graffiti in front of its locked doors]
[cut to the male student (who had escaped the bullies before) running up to the library only to find that the door is locked, as the bullies throw him down and start pummelling him]
NARRATOR: Closing school libraries will be an educational disaster and a financial disaster.
[cut to a young female student working on a jigsaw puzzle in the library, only for that image to fade away and reveal an overturned table in its place]
[cut to a female librarian walking through the stacks, as the books on the shelves slowly fade away behind her]
[as the librarian exits the library, then scene fades to black, then cut to library staff and students speaking directly to the camera]
ALL: Please! Save school libraries!



"Bleeding Libraries," a school library advocacy video that examines the plight of the school library when funding is lost and the doors are closed. I asked Laura K. Graff, the visionary behind the video, to share how it came about. Check out the video, then get her take after the jump.

Creating "Bleeding Libraries" by Laura K. Graff, Sun Valley (CA) High School

I had the idea of a video in my mind for a long time. Last year my district decided to shorten library aides' hours in the elementary libraries. All our justifications for keeping all libraries open all day fell on deaf ears. I encouraged library aides to create a video to illustrate what would happen to closed libraries, but nothing happened. This year all library positions — librarians in secondary schools and aides in elementary schools — were eliminated as centrally funded positions. High school positions have been restored, but we're still advocating for middle schools.

I made a list of "shots" and then worked with other librarians to refine the list. I tried unsuccessfully to interest several people in producing the video until another Teacher Librarian suggested his son who works in sound. He had worked with a good director recently, and they assembled a complete crew. I met with the director to go over the shots, text that I had written, and our intentions for the video. The crew consisted of the director, editor, sound person, camera woman, and a few others. They agreed to do the job for $1500, although they were seriously underpaid for the work they did. They felt committed to the project and donated a lot of time. Once the concept was in the director's hands, it was his project. He created a logical narrative from our list of shots. He transformed a list of ideas into a dramatic statement.

We worked on the video from 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM. Librarians from other schools came to assist after school and students participated at lunch and after school. The video crew helped move books and furniture along with everyone else. They even appeared in some sequences. The students were basically volunteers and many of them are library regulars. My principal gave permission for us to make the video, and students had their parents sign release forms.

We had to physically empty the shelves. The only magic was keeping the camera in its exact position after shooting the last scene that showed me walking down the aisle with the books on the shelves. Then we had to move all the books so they could shoot the empty shelves. The fade was in editing. It was a huge challenge to move the books AND place them out of sight. The director and several of the crew "trashed" the library. The director used torn pieces of clear plastic to make the computer monitors appear broken. The crew moved furniture and equipment. We tried to use water soluble markers for tagging but they didn't show up. We switched to tagging on posters and signs. No books, students or furnishings were damaged in the production of this video!

We have just started to promote the video. I uploaded it to Youtube and Vimeo and then posted the URLs on the lm-net and calibk12 listservs, as well as the google groups we have for our own librarians and aides. A librarian in another school district posted it on TeacherTube. UTLA, our teacher's union, posted it on their website. I posted it on my Facebook page, and other librarians, including my sister in New York, have shared it on their own Facebook pages. I know of at least one Twitter. We're in the process of planning distribution to the media, print and online. At this point in time, we're including local newspaper columnists and reporters, state government officials, state education department personnel, state government education committee members, ALA, School Library Journal, and Huffington Post, for a start. Michael Moore is on our list as well. Librarians saved his book from being sent to the dump by the publisher after 9-11. Maybe he can save us.

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