High school library system to undergo a transformation

Schools will soon be able to choose 5,000 titles from a list of 13,480 suggested by the Education Ministry in an effort to revive the dwindling collections in their libraries. Where these exist, their benefits to the children, teachers and the local community (where the school library is often the only one) are usually in reverse proportion to the amounts spent on them. Although the announcement has raised hopes, objections have been raised as to the way the books have been chosen, as ministry circulars have set only general and often self-evident guidelines to teachers, probably in an attempt to satisfy the publishing industry. Meanwhile, it also remains to be seen whether the entire procedure becomes bogged down in bureaucracy. It seems that, so far, a positive beginning has been made. Ministry sources told Kathimerini that librarians have been hired and the list of books will have been compiled by next February. Schools may begin ordering books in March. At present there are 286 libraries in junior, senior and technical high schools (TEE) around the country. Each school’s teachers’ association will make the choice of books, which are to be ordered in an international competition. All legal procedures will have been completed by the end of 2006, promise representatives of the service implementing the project, but final deliveries may be delayed by objections raised to the way the competition is held. Choice of books Percentages have been set regarding the number of books from each category as follows: – Philosophy, psychology, logic and ethics: 10 percent; – General information, encyclopedias: dictionaries, 4 percent; – Religion: 2 percent; – Social sciences, economy, administration, commerce, ethnography: 20 percent; – Physics, maths, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, biology, botany and zoology: 12 percent; – Applied sciences, medicine, agriculture, home economy, industry: 8 percent; – Fine arts, architecture: 9 percent; – Literature: 12 percent; – Geography, history, travel: 9 percent; – Books of local interest: 1 percent. Libraries at TEEs have been set percentages for the specializations taught (13 percent for mechanical engineering; electronics, electrology, construction 7 percent, applied arts 8 percent; textiles 2 percent; horticulture 5 percent; economy/administration 10 percent; health 6 percent; merchant marine 2 percent; computer science 12 percent; chemical applications 4 percent; hairdressing/cosmetics 5 percent. Criteria The ministry has instructed teachers to bear in mind the age of the pupils and their educational needs, to maintain a balance between Greek and foreign writers, classical and modern. Teachers are warned against books that proselytize, spread propaganda and present stereotypes or discriminate against minority or other specific groups and books that insult the values of the educational system. The cost of setting up each library ranges from 150,000 to 160,000 euros, of which 50-60,000 will go toward books.