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Stick With Librarians

September 11, 1993

On Aug. 23, in the County Issues feature on the city control of libraries, Mayor Greg Stratton of Simi Valley commented that the library could be open another 14 hours a week with the trade-off of not always staffing the desk with a professional librarian.

Professional librarians have at least a master's degree in library science and provide the vital service of interpreting the patron's question and helping the patron find the information that will answer that question.

In addition, librarians are responsible for the safety of the patrons and the security of the building. While answering reference questions, librarians routinely move through all parts of the building and provide a staff presence. In any building open to the public, that security is necessary. The clerical staff cannot contractually be responsible for a building the size of Simi Valley Library, nor are they able to leave the checkout desk to patrol the building due to the number of patrons borrowing library material.

All librarians want more hours to accommodate the needs of the community, but not at the expense of those patrons who anticipate and appreciate the assistance of experts. The mayor of Simi Valley seems to be willing to deprofessionalize this major Southern California library, leading his community toward mediocrity.

MARY K. LYNCH

Ventura

Mary Lynch is president of the Professional Librarians Assn. of Ventura County.

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