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Libraries before Potter

I read with great dismay the article "From simple librarian to resources chief" by Pat Sweeney (January 18), in which he gives the impression that pre-Harry Potter his school's librarian Eileen Duvall sat around all day writing the school newsletter, arranging flowers and showing visitors the view from her library windows.

In other words she was not doing her job as a school librarian, which I am sure is not the case.

Either life as a school librarian in Edinburgh is different from that of North Ayrshire and other local authorities or Mr Sweeney has a completely wrong impression of his librarian. I found his article to be patronising to school librarians in general and to Eileen Duvall in particular. It is at odds with the realities of school librarianship. We are intelligent, professional people who long ago escaped from the notion of the library being an extension of the English department.

It has been "cool" to read for some time and school libraries have long been a popular place for children to go. Indeed many school libraries hold a better selection of children's books than some public libraries. This is particularly true of non-fiction which children are desperate to borrow for project work. There have been plenty of authors who have fired children's imaginations and encouraged them to read before the advent of Harry Potter.

Mr Sweeney also states that departments other than the English department are "now beating a path to Eileen's door". Here in North Ayrshire as in other authorities, many departments have used their school libraries for years, some needing little encouragement to do so. Indeed sometimes it is difficult to provide accommodation for pupils such is the demand.

I also find it strange that he says Eileen is disconcerted by pupils' views that she is an expert on technology. Often in a school many new initiatives in technology are led by the librarian. We do have to be experts as we are asked for help and advice by pupils and staff alike.

We also currently have no in-school technical support for IT, so we very often have to sort problems for ourselves. Indeed some of the North Ayrshire schools have used a computerised library management system since 1994 and have had access to the internet for many years.

Rosslyn Lee

School librarian

Ardrossan Academy

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