Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Missing the point?

Posted by lpearle on 20 January 2010

During the ISS meeting during AASL’s All-Committee, the resolution on changing our title back to “school librarian” was read.  The entire table cheered  (although, as Kristin says, “It feels like a visit from Obviousman”).

So why are Diane and others upset?

I have no idea.  Seriously, you’d think they didn’t like the idea of reclaiming a title (and a space designation) that ties us in with every other MLS in our profession.  I mean, where was the Library Media Center of Congress*?  Go to any major university and find the Library Media Specialist on the faculty listing.  Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Back?

All those complaining that it brings us back to an old stereotype, that it reinforces our status as “staff” not “faculty”, blah blah whiny blah – get over it.  Talk with any tenured librarian at Harvard (or Penn State) and they’re not all angsty that they’re not “Professor”.  It’s up to each of us, in our buildings and with group advocacy, to make sure our schools, parents and students know our true worth.

Trust me, they’re applying old, outdated stereotypes to all of us, from law to corporate to archives to school to public.  It’s not about where, it’s about how.  Would being a “teacher-librarian” be better?  Only if we don’t want to have to spend time explaining that we aren’t a librarian for teachers only.  Only if we once again want to separate what we do from what others in our profession do.

Providing excellent service, being as forward thinking and moving as possible, keeping up with the profession (but remember, it’s ok to have an outside life, too), and creating links to the community so that you have their support during difficult times is the way to change those stereotypes.  I’m betting that in mk‘s school, or Liz‘s school, or Jen‘s school (and I could go on and on) there isn’t a population that thinks “librarian = bun, sensible shoes, lipstick on the teeth, sweaters and ill-fitting skirts”

Obsessing about a name change is missing the point.

Besides, it lessens the confusion when you look at a school’s website and find this.

(*sorry, can’t claim credit for that one, it’s been around for a while)

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5 Responses to “Missing the point?”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by VennLibrarian: Missing the point?: http://wp.me/pJFEm-Y3

  2. LaurieA-B said

    I am so proud to be a school librarian and to call the room in which I mostly work the library. When I call myself a school librarian and then tell people (or demonstrate for them) what I do at work, if they have a “traditional” view of what a school librarian is I have just changed their mind for the 21st-c. People call us school librarians. We should embrace that title and show them what school librarians are today.

  3. This is about being seen as a teacher. That good ol’ funding rule 65/35 where 65% of all school funding goes to the teachers that are teaching, while the 35% goes to the nonessentials is one reason I am bothered by the name. Change is good. Their chosen change is not. Had we been called “teacher librarian” just maybe we graduate degree teaching professionals who happen to teach in a library setting instead of the traditional classroom just may have been categorized as essential like teachers and not unessential and potentially have our jobs on the chopping block.

    No its not about the name, it about advocacy, and making our school and community understand our vital role in our schools.

    From a Teacher-Librarian

  4. diane said

    You’re certainly entitled to your take on this issue, but in my experience, the old stereotypes die hard. In the small rural district where I was the sole library professional, I was “forward thinking,” but with a fixed elementary schedule and a HS current events class to teach, it was difficult to do much “moving.” Especially with an administration that was unsupportive and colleagues who were too stressed by standardized testing to have time to explore new approaches and technologies.

    I went through a lot to get my teaching certification (in addition to my MLS), and my pension is from the teachers’ retirement system, not the ALA. Those who earn doctorates use their titles; why shouldn’t represent myself as a Teacher/Librarian?

  5. elisabeth abarbanel said

    I have always been a school librarian. I collaborate, teach, plan, and do all the “regular” librarian jobs like collection development and the library website. I identify with the term “school librarian” because it has always been my title (and I don’t have a bun, etc.) And I am the librarian for the school, not only the students. I collect the videos for our teachers, and books for our teachers and staff to read.I teach the teachers how to use the databases and other resources. My colleagues think of me as an equal. I am happy other people like Teacher/Librarian over SLMS, but really it doesn’t matter so much. Call yourself what you want to call yourself at your school – what it means to you – but in terms of ALA, we are school librarians – not public librarians, not university librarians, not law librarians, but school librarians.

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