Mayor Karl Dean got a lukewarm reception in 2008 when he first introduced the concept of merging Metro’s public libraries with those of the school system.
His initial plan was to begin consolidation in January 2009 and use the library’s procurement operations and extensive collection to benefit the libraries in Metro’s struggling public schools.
But Board of Education members perceived it as an attempt by the mayor to take control of the school system that, at the time, was on the brink of state takeover because of repeated missed benchmarks of federal No Child Left Behind.
Dean, in an attempt to calm concern, met with school board members in January 2009 to bring them up to speed on his list of initiatives for improving education including consolidating libraries.
Metro schools spokesperson Noelle Mashburn said a joint committee of Metro schools, mayor’s office and Nashville Public Library staff was then formed to study the merger.
“They have been meeting regularly to develop a pilot program,” she said, noting the district has been “really working hard, really actively working to determine how we could make this process work.”
Apparently, they found a way.
Dean will be joined today by Director of Schools Jesse Register and Director of Nashville Public Library Donna Nicely at Pearl-Cohn Magnet High School to announce a pilot program at three Metro high schools.
“You've got to break down the barriers between the general government and the school system," Mayor Karl Dean said. "It makes all the sense in the world."
Nashville Public Library spokesperson Deanna Larson said the library staff has been “working our hardest” on the program.
“We saw it totally as a win-win for students to be exposed to as many materials and resources as possible,” she said.