Learning Community Assessment, LIBM 6360, Dr. Rickman
The role of the modern librarian has metamorphoses over the years. It is no long suitable for a librarian to spend his or her days simply greeting patrons and shelving books. Librarians of today take a much more active approach to managing their library programs. According to AASL’s Empowering Learners, the “school library program promotes collaboration among members of the learning community and encourages learners to be independent, lifelong users and producers of ideas and information” (AASL, p.20). In order for librarians to successfully manage a library program, they must be knowledgeable about the community in which they serve, be it academic or public. They must know not only the dynamic of the community, but if serving a school, they must also be aware of the dynamics within a particular building or age group. It is not enough for a librarian to comprehend the in’s and out’s of a particular collection. He or she must also understand the community he or she is serving and what the needs of that community entail.
According to the Marion Chamber of Commerce (2010), Marion, Arkansas is located 11 miles west of Memphis, Tennessee and about 130 miles east of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the county seat of Crittenden County and lies in the northwest quadrant of the state along Interstate 55. According to the census of 2010, the population of Marion is 12,345. The population may be broken down as follows: Caucasians, 66.8%; African- Americans, 29.2%; Asians, 1.4%; and those of two or more races 1.4%. 81percent of Marion’s population lives in an area described as urban, while 18.1 percent live in rural communities.
The average age of a Marion resident is 33.8. While the average household income $70,277, 31.5 percent of residents report that they rent housing.
Marion does not have a means of public transportation, but residents have access to several different modes of transportation. Interstate 55 and Interstate 40 intersect 2 miles south of Marion. The Union Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Railroad travel through the town. There are four inbound and three outbound trains daily that travel to and from West Coast seaports. There is a Mississippi River port in West Memphis, a mere 6 miles away. West Memphis plays host to a small airport and the Memphis International Airport is a 20 minute drive.
While Marion is not home to a hospital of it s own, Crittenden Regional Medical Center is located 6 miles away in West Memphis, Arkansas. Residents also have access to several hospitals in Memphis that are equipped to treat major medical injuries and serious illness.
There are many different active Christian churches in Marion. There are seven churches, representing the Methodist, Baptist, Assembly of God and Church of Christ denominations. Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Catholic churches are located in West Memphis, and the nearest synagogue is in Memphis, Tennessee.
Marion is home to Marion School district which ranks as the 29th largest in the state. Approximate 4, 200 students are enrolled in the district K-12 (Marion School District, 2013). Of those attending Marion schools, 0.7 percent participates in the “School Choice” program. The district has a parental involvement plan which includes Watch DOG programs, literacy and math nights, parent / teacher conferences, and Career Action Planning sessions. 36 percent of teachers in the district hold a Master’s degree. There are six campuses and the average pupil to teacher ratio is 17:1. According to Marion’s District Report Card (2011), in the district, 58.8 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The district boasts a 94 percent attendance rate and a combined graduation rate of 82.8 percent.
Marion residents live in close proximity to a host of colleges and universities. Mid-South Community College is in West Memphis, Arkansas, approximately 5 minutes away. The University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, Crichton College, Memphis Theological Seminary, and Southwest Community College are all located in Memphis, Tennessee within a 20 minutes drive.
Because Marion plays the role of a hub for many neighboring rural areas, the population a Marion librarian would be serving has a variety of needs. A librarian serving this community must be aware of the level of exposure to different places and events that patrons may or may not have had. For instance, a collection about famous European artists may not be as applicable to patrons as would say a collection about the history of farming or different types of crops. Some students may not have ever crossed the Mississippi River into Memphis, Tennessee, or may have never visited a zoo. While books may be used as a mode of exploration in introducing patrons to different places and events, a librarian must be fully aware of the background knowledge held by the community being served in order to serve them most efficiently.
In closing, knowing the community that is being served is imperative to the success of modern librarians. It is not enough to be familiar with what titles a library does and does not hold, a librarian must know the patrons’ background in order to anticipate needs and interests of a particular group. As technology advances, the need for adaptable librarians also increases; therefore, modern librarians must exhibit a high level of community knowledge and flexibility in order to successfully fulfill his or her duties.
American Association of School Librarians (2009). Empowering
learners. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians.
Marion Chamber of Commerce (2010). Relocation. Retrieved from
Marion School District (2013). District home page. Retrieved from
District Report Card (2011). District report card. Retrieved from
United States Census Bureau (2013).State and county quick facts.
Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/05/05089.html