Saturday, February 14th, 2004 • No Comments on Reading Is Fundamentally Difficult For Some
I am a writer. I work in a library. Literacy is important to me. Therefore, I can state without any hesitation that the average adult cannot read
! How do I know this? Come along with me while I examine the facts:
—A sign that reads: “Please go to the INFORMATION DESK if you need assistance” sat on my desk for my entire lunch hour. It is not written in small print, it is not ambiguous. Despite this fact, I was chastised by a woman of questionable intellect because I was not at my desk and, therefore, she could not get assistance. Um… hello?
—A woman asks for a book. I give her the call number 975.5 SIM and direct her to the nonfiction section (never mind that there is a big sign screaming NONFICTION over the nonfiction section, I didn’t want her to have any confusion whatsoever). She comes back ten minutes later complaining that she cannot find the book, it must not be here. It took me longer to walk back to the nonfiction section than it did for me to find the book, which was (surprisingly enough)
exactly where it was supposed to be
—I send a man to the shelf where the beginning reader books are located in the children’s room. The beginning readers are actually labeled EASY READERS on the shelf (presumably because it takes up less space), which I’m sure could be confusing. Therefore, I tell him the shelf is labeled EASY READERS. I tell him it’s the last short shelf before the tall shelves. I tell him it is on the opposite side from the WI-Z shelf. I even point to where it is, from less than twenty feet away. I find him ten minutes later wandering around the juvenile non-fiction (you know, the
tall shelves labeled with numbers
), scratching his head and saying I didn’t really tell him where to look.
—A parent directs her child to play on a children’s computer after I sign the child up. I send the child to the third computer, “The one with the cat.” The child actually heads in the right direction and Mom redirects her… to a computer labeled LIBRARY CATALOG.
It’s no wonder literacy is such an issue in this country. We’ve got a generation of illiterate adults trying to teach the next generation how to read.