No real evaluation evident in choice of books

The ministry’s list of over 13,000 titles – magazines, periodicals and audiovisual material account for 528 – approved by a committee of experts for selection by some 300 schools setting up their own libraries reads like a collector’s library catalog, that is a collector who spends hours browsing through bookshops. Everyone and everything is on the list, from the classics to modern writers, Greek and foreigner, philosophers and scientists of all persuasions, as well as audiovisual material on new technologies. The titles themselves provide interesting information as to the criteria employed. For example, there are at least 12 Modern Greek dictionaries – perhaps this is too many. There are also a large number of Ancient Greek dictionaries and grammar books. Another feature of the list is the large number of best sellers, such as books by Irvin Yalom and Dan Brown. Here one has to wonder if the selection committee included current market trends in its criteria. A plurality of titles in the same category gives the impression the committee decided there was safety in numbers. But the committee members had the luxury of being able to flip through all the titles. Not so the hard-pressed teachers whose only criteria will be their own experience and preferences. «Anything of importance happening in education is cultivated chiefly through school libraries,» said Costas Akrivos, a writer in charge of a school library. «We have problems, both small and large. We would like support, and new and better material. At a certain point, we were left to our own devices and to whatever money we were entitled to from the school committee. I would have preferred it if the experts’ committee had been a bit more daring in its choice of titles. I think it is very difficult for a school committee (of teachers, parents and local community representatives) to choose among 10 or more dictionaries – 8,000 titles would have been more manageable.»