Just yesterday I was bemoaning that there are librarians everywhere who are simply satisfied as a gate-keeper of books, for all intents and purposes a specials class in the specials/planning period rotation, and are dismissive of the expectations AASL has laid out for the critical roles we are trained to fulfill in our schools. Administrators who for whatever reason choose to use the Master’s degree level professional in this way have truly paved the way for a budget cut, and we have allowed it to happen. After all, couldn’t a paraprofessional checkout books, have story time, and generate reports and rewards for a computerized reading management program (like AR?)
If we do not advocate for our programs, who will?
Buffy Hamilton in my mind is the epitome of the 21st Century SCHOOL LIBRARIAN–yes, embrace it people. We are so named by our very own professional organization as a school librarian. No matter our interpreation of that moniker, our duties we carry out everyday define the term. Buffy Hamilton is such a great role model for a 21st century school librarian. And guess what folks? She herself is feeling the pressure of staffing and budget cuts.
Buffy – let’s call a spade a spade
As I ran across this post from her blog, Buffy is questioning (my interpretation) School Library Journal for using an article about a school librarian who has left the school librarian profession for a tech position, a position where the person continues to serve in essentially the same role as the school librarian. As one of our top professional journals, the question that comes to mind for me is why feature and bring attention and possibly praise to one who has abandoned the job? I am stunned by the article myself, but couldn’t put into words my bafflement. Buffy very eloquently states the many thoughts, feeling, and even emotions I had in reaction. And bless my soul, my friend Diane Cordell left a comment too that is resonating with me:
School Librarian – We are evolving into an endangered species!
Where do you stand on this spectrum? "Raibow Walk" by Andrei Zmievski, Flickr
We now have to worry about both ends of the spectrum of a good and the bad school librarian. Let’s examine them:
At one end of the spectrum of school libraries/librarians are the ones who
refuse to embrace 21st century thinking,
are complacent in their role as a babysitter,
feel satisfied that their AR points racked up annually reflect a wonderful program,
and are very dismissive of technology, tools, participatory learning, and being a technology and collaborative learning leader in their schools.
At the other end of the spectrum are the ones who:
are striving to provide a 21st century program,
have transformed their programs into a technology rich information hub,
serve both their students and their staff as partners in teaching and learning,
facilitate inquiry and investigation based not only on curriculum standards but also interest,
and work tirelessly to be effective collaborative partners and designers of engaging curriculum.
What is my worry?
The first group will cost me my job due to apathy–this one can be replaced with a paraprofessional quite easily. The second one will leave the profession for a different title altogether, yet again leaving me as a minority–one who is striving to be 21ST Century School Librarian. What remains is a majority of those who are apathetic or don’t care, and by and large administrators see that and so make sweeping cuts based on that sad majority. Sigh. It’s scary.
What to do?
If you are somewhere in the spectrum NEAR the first one described above, begin advocating for your program and your role in your school. Make every effort and work tirelessly to get your self OUT of the specials rotation. Collaborate with teachers for the purpose of curriculum design and engaged learning. PLUG in your resources to their units of study. Lead professional development. Educate your school and community with what you have been pedagogically trained to do. embrace blogs, rss, and all forms of participatory learning on a professional level, and extend it to the teaches and students level. Don’t fall victim to apathy. Don’t just lay down and take it without trying to make change. Change is never easy. But it is vital if you plan to make a difference in your school…and hopefully save your job as a school librarian.
Read it. Walk away with your own interpretation. Mine may be a little too “knee-jerkish” to some. But everyday that passes and I read about WONDERFUL Librarians whose jobs are already cut or on the chopping block, the more I fear for my own job…. and also the a harder I work at being an interwoven, vital part of the broad school program.