Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

When the going gets TOUGH

When the going gets TOUGH, the tough put on lip balm.  That’s because sometimes you just have to press your lips together and get through those tough times. Let’s look at this weekend:

Friday morning we learn of the Nashville mayor’s confusing proposal to merge public and school libraries – without working with the school librarians on this and faultily assuming we do the same activities/have the same collections. This happens while 400 Tennessee school librarians are meeting at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians annual conference to Be A Guiding Light @ your library and where advocacy gurus Debra Kay Logan and Sara Kelly Johns are speaking.

Friday night I learn my house has been robbed and my son’s electronics (plus some hotdogs and pizza) were stolen. I learn how to conduct an investigation, how to interview neighbors, and how to speed clean anything personal that "some unknown person" may have touched. After laundry and dish washing, it’s 3 a.m. & I need to be up by 5 to prepare for the next day of TASL.

Saturday afternoon I learn my German Shepherd has torn his ACL, has advanced stage arthritis in his hips, and is losing feeling in his tail causing "accidents" to fall everywhere. This means the end is approaching too rapidly and my sons aren’t dealing well with it. Saturday becomes researching options and preparing for proposals to help 4 teenage boys deal with the upcoming loss of their beloved Marshall T-Rex. 

While I may experience optical leaking, my Mary Kay lip-balmed-lips will not quiver, and I will keep going. 

I need your support. 

You cannot help me retrieve my #3 son’s only possession – an Xbox 360 he purchased with his salary from working at Taco Bell or my #2 son’s Wii system that he left with me for safe keeping while he is doing desert training in California in preparation for Afghanistan in March. You cannot magically cure my beloved Marshall. 

You CAN help us educate the officials in Nashville, Tennessee, on the importance of school libraries and the differences between public and school libraries’ missions, collections, and activities. Educate not irritate. There must be dialogues and opportunities to educate and advocate for both types of libraries. That’s what makes us a great city with a great library. Who thought that slogan meant just the public library?

Here are some places to comment: 

  • SLJ’s article Nashville School, Public Library Merger Generates Confusion
  • Nashville’s Public Libraries to run School’s Libraries article in the Tennessean
  • Library Merger Plan Stuns Officials article in the Tennessean
  • Read the letter from Mayor Dean to acting director Chris Henson. Note that Dr. Susan Whitworth was not cc’d on this matter. As the coordinator of library services in Metro Schools, shouldn’t Dr. Whitworth have received this information before the press and at least been given the same opportunities as the director of the public library?
  • Check out the School board’s letter to Mayor Dean in pdf format. (It’s important to read the real sources, but here’s my question: Where’s the plan?)
  • Nashville City Paper’s article City, School library consolidation generates confusion
  • NewsChannel 5’s report on the possible merger
  • A view in the UT Scholarly Communication Issues that focuses upon territories. I think Bryn is missing the big picture. School libraries DO currently collaborate with public libraries. I teach my students how to access public libraries. I visit public libraries during the summer to stimulate reading and maintain academic skills. Our school libraries use the resources from the public libraries. We use databases like TEL and teach students the importance of having a public library card so they can locate e-books.  We encourage our students to use the public library resources including the internet WITH their families after school since most parents cannot get to schools during the day and even early evening.

Public libraries are wonderful places with resources for recreational reading, but do they have the staff expertise to provide curricular support?  In a typical 7.5 hour school day, I may spend 90 minutes planning with teachers for instruction. My degree in education enhances my ability to match resources with teaching strategies. This is far more than collection development. This is instruction. Perhaps that’s why in 1989 when I earned my library degree school librarians had to have more credit hours for their master’s degree and certification than general librarians. There is a difference. School and public libraries are meant to collaborate not dominate each other.

There is an article by NJASL on SCHOOL/PUBLIC LIBRARY JOINT USE FACILITY STANDARDS. which explores the idea of joint partnerships in great detail. Do you agree with the content? Is there anything missing?

As for me, my family needs my support tonight as we cope with tough times. I appreciate your support and I’m off to reapply the lip balm.


  1. Amy Bowllan says:

    Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. I admire your courage and your ability to make light of a tough situation. Thanks for helping me to gain a newfound perspective on the meaning of Thanksgiving.

  2. teacherninjas says:

    Ouch. Sorry for the troubles. I’ll comment and link right away. Hope the holidays improve for you and your family.

  3. joycevalenza says:

    Diane, I am so sorry about the sadness at home and wish I could help in a bigger way in Tennessee. I’ll read your links and think a bit. But having done both jobs, I know the big differences in perspective. Public and school librarians both serve our youth in big ways. I loved both jobs, but during my work as a public librarian, I now realize I knew very little about instructional design, learning strategies, assessment, curriculum, differentiated learning, and so much more.

  4. I think the stupidest person in the world robbed our house. For one thing, they/he/she unplugged cords from the buzzing television, but left the Xbox power cord still in the wall.

    A professional thief would have taken one look at the inside of my house and “gone Robin Hood” by leaving US donations.

  5. Brian Kenney says:

    Diane, what a rough few days! So sorry…and we’re following this Nashville merger story closely. Keep us informed. Brian

  6. Brittany Holman says:

    I am SO sorry! I will be investigating the merger proposal in more detail! It is very upsetting that they did not involve the school librarians before making an announcement! Stay tough!

  7. ALICE YUCHT says:

    There’s a document at
    that outlines the clear differences between school and public libraries

  8. Sandy Kelly says:

    Diane, so sorry for your personal loss, that lip balm must be heavy duty if you are also working on SL business too, not to mention the holiday! MSLA & MLA have 3 joint statements at
    They are on Similarities and Differences, Collaboraion and Collection Development. I hope they might be some help.