What Action To Take? What project would meet the requirements of the sociology course, be beneficial to the community and be self rewarding? Volunteering at a local elementary school ! Hundreds of students could benefit from the effort and it would provide work experience.
Fairview Heights Elementary I paid a visit to the local elementary school which is under the supervision of the HRM School Board. The principle, David De Van, introduced me to the school librarian, Jennifer MacKinnon.
Was Help Needed? Due to recent cutbacks, school libraries were now reduced to part time status. This resulted in the library being used only half of the time and student library time was only 15 minutes a week. School library budgets average $1700.00 a year. With such a small amount of funding, schools and librarians had to do more with less time and fewer new items in the collection they carried.
What Could I Do? The first thing the library needed was a complete reorganization. Books were not in order and could not be found when they were needed. Not only were the children’s books disorganized, the teacher’s resource center was in disarray and some material was outdated. Reorganization and removing of non-required items is beneficial to both teacher’s and students.
Anything Else? With increased demands on the librarians time, I could help with group readings and special events. Here the students are being interviewed by CBC radio for an Afghanistan Christmas project.
Is there More Work? The book fair is a very important event for local schools. It allows students to purchase books at a discounted price and helps raise much needed funds for the library. Searching the database for books would help students find the material they wanted. With only 15 minutes of time, the extra help is very much appreciated.
Can I Assist Any Other Way? Communication is important. As the students become more comfortable in the library, they will approach you and be more willing to talk about what they like to read. Once the collection becomes more organized and you begin to understand what children like to read, you can make special collections that the students can browse through quickly.
What Are The Benefits? <ul><li>Volunteering once a week means that my work is an ongoing project that will have longer term benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Reading and interacting with the students allows me to develop my skills in large group situations. (Social Groups, Group Dynamics, Social Interaction and Collective Behavior.) </li></ul>
Are There Social Benefits? <ul><li>The diversity of the students, their ages, gender, social classes and ethnic backgrounds makes the project a study in sociology. Observation, asking questions and responding to inquiries will help me in future employment and social situations. (Social Class, Ethnic Relations, Sex and Gender.) </li></ul><ul><li>Helping students at a very important stage in their own social and educational development gives me a sense of accomplishment and gives the students a feeling of empowerment. (Culture and Society in a Changing World, Education and Religion.) </li></ul>
In Conclusion: This project is providing not only a service to the community but is rewarding and beneficial to me. The work load of the librarian has been reduced, allowing her to concentrate her efforts on the technical aspects of her work. Students are benefiting from the additional attention that they can now receive. On a personal level, I am gaining experience in not only the library field, but in the social aspects of the public education system and the libraries they support. In addition to the work experience, it also allows me to develop contacts and references in my field of study.