Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Summer Learning

Posted by lpearle on 19 May 2015

One of the biggest complaints others have about those of us who work in schools is that we get this really long summer vacation, so why do we need to get paid a reasonable wage? While it’s true that we get that vacation (and part of me says the haters are just jealous), the reality is that few of us use it for Vacation and more of us use it to revamp lesson plans, to learn new tools and skills, and to learn from each other.

My plans, in addition to revamping and trying new tricks, are:

If I had the time/money, I’d also be attending

Between now and then, however, I have time to go through my archived tweets and blog posts, pulling out great ideas to try for next year and tools/tricks/tips to share with you, my faithful readers.  And after, more time to play and explore, not to mention get caught up on all the wonderful summer book releases and getting ready for fall.  Sadly, Faculty Orientation and Student Orientation in August will be upon us far too soon…

What will you be doing?  where?

Posted in Conferences | Leave a Comment »

Obituary vs. Eulogy

Posted by lpearle on 12 May 2015

Last week a F/friend recommended the book The Road to Character by David Brooks, and mentioned that there was going to be a discussion on Book-TV (aka “C-SPAN 2″ on weekdays).  I taped it but didn’t have time to watch until this weekend.

Book TV

One of the things that stuck with me was the difference he draws between building your obituary (or resume – they’re virtually the same) and building your eulogy.  It made me wonder which we’re stressing for our students.

We do a lot of talking about building a resume or portfolio for college, stressing that students need to think about community service and volunteering, doing that service trip to some poverty-stricken area, considering some foreign travel so they have cross-cultural experiences, perhaps getting a summer internship, or taking a leadership position within the school,  in addition to doing well on APs and other tests.  The more “unique” your profile, the better it is for college.   And once in college, there are internships and more, all to make you desirable to an employer.  Since few of them will stay with one company, in one position, for their entire work career, continuing that resume building is critical.  And then there’s civic engagement, joining the PTA or Lions, becoming a volunteer EMT or running for local office.  It’s all about a list of accomplishments that can lift them to the next level until, finally, it’s a list of what they did that can be printed in a newspaper (assuming that newspapers are around at that point).

But what about teaching them to build their eulogy?  Were they kind to strangers? Do they seek out new students to show them how to fit into their new environment?  Do they radiate love for others? Are they honorable? Trustworthy?  What will people say about them at their funeral/memorial service? Or, even closer to their lives, what do their teachers and friends say about them when creating a recommendation or speaking about them at an awards ceremony or other event where they are being honored?  Are they living lives that inspire others to be like them? (Forgiving, of course, those moments when they have a bad day, or makes mistakes – as we all do.)

Mr. Brooks makes the point that we rarely have conversations or use language about morality and creating that moral compass.  Our lives, and those of our students, should be less about Facebook “likes” and more about real life appreciation and admiration.

In our conversations and teachings, especially when the topic is digital citizenship, we often stress the importance of not bullying, or trolling, or building our self-esteem on what people say or post about it.  How often do we turn that to non-digital citizenship?  How can we start having those discussions without sounding overly moralistic, preachy or like an old-fogey?  And what books can we put in our collections that inspire these qualities without being overly moralistic, preachy, etc.?

Posted in Musings, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Fitting in

Posted by lpearle on 5 May 2015

The NEAISL15 conference is over, and it seemed like everyone had a good time and got a lot out of it (whew!).  Several members were heading to Tampa for AISL15, a conference I haven’t attended since 2001’s Library Space Odyssey (don’t ask).  In two months, I’ll be in San Francisco for ALA Annual, but in between I could to ACRL NEC.  Looking ahead, there are AASL, YALSA and other conferences, symposia and workshops I could be considering… but beyond having limited professional development funds and not wanting to be away from “home” all the time, what conferences (and what organizations) are really going to give me and my school the most bang for the buck?

When I first started my library life, it was clear that joining AASL was necessary.  After all, working in a school library = joining the national school librarian’s association, right? Imagine my surprise when many of my colleagues didn’t belong!  They were members of other ALA divisions, or only joined the state organization, or only the local one.  Did.Not.Compute.  But as time has passed, I, too, have dropped or changed memberships based on what I need and what the organization is giving me.

This is one of those “where do I fit in” moments for me: who will give me the greatest learning opportunities?  where can I make a difference?  That’s not to say that there needs to be a clear path to leadership on a committee or overall, but can I contribute in some way?  Even more important is the learning.  I stopped going to one conference because it was too much money for too little learning.  As a newbie, it was great but in the middle phase of my professional life, too much was geared to those newbies, or to people who weren’t reading blogs and professional magazines and keeping up with trends and tools.  One conference session touted iPhones as the Next Great Thing (remember when Palm Pilots were?), but two years after they’d been introduced. Granted, conference proposals are due so far in advance that sometimes things are outdated, but maybe then the presenters should have upped the game, shown new things and not given a basic intro?  All too frequently, the sessions are geared for the newbies, the beginners, and there are few that are for “advanced” people.

Which leads me to continue to ask, “where do I fit in?”  AASL doesn’t speak to me any longer, YALSA is – after a few years of seeming like a home – really more interested in public librarians than schools, ALSC is for a population younger than I serve.  Reaching up to ACRL makes sense, as does continuing with AISL because of our shared independent status, and then there’s RUSA for reference and RA.  And maybe, after years of joining and joining, that’s enough…

How many of you are feeling the same?  What are you doing about it?

Posted in Professional organizations | Leave a Comment »

What am I missing?

Posted by lpearle on 30 April 2015

Recently there was a report that proved that having a certified teacher-librarian in a school leads to higher student achievement.  Of course this was met with much elation and excitement: look!  we do matter!!

Leaving the question of title and certification (I am not state certified, nor do I call myself a teacher-librarian) aside, I feel like this study – and many of its predecessors – are missing something.  Something like context, or the bigger picture.  Here’s what I don’t see when looking at the survey:

  • what’s the student/teacher ratio?
  • what’s the annual expenditure per student overall, not just in the library?
  • does the library provide access to state purchased databases?
  • what’s the average income level in the school?
  • how many students get free or reduced meals?
  • how involved are the parents in the life of the school?
  • what is the attendance rate?

Here’s one example: my nephew works in an inner city middle school where many students are eligible for free meals.  Despite this, he frequently (ok, daily) brings in fruit and a few candy bars because there are students who are literally crying from hunger after having no food at home for dinner, and then not making it to school in time for breakfast.  Guess what? That school has a state certified librarian in its library.

One of my library friends said this about the study:

What a weird mish-mash of data that is. And can we talk about the fact that so many schools didn’t respond to the survey? And this paragraph, which is exactly the opposite of the basis of so many federal reform efforts, “Overall, smaller schools tend to lag behind larger schools in academic achievement, as do schools located in more rural areas with higher rates of poverty.”

I guess this is the “money” graph, but still, this is sort of sketchy. I agree that there are many factors that we aren’t getting at here, including ” controlling for school size and student income level” which I don’t see anywhere in Appendix C. 

The fact is that there are many factors, that schools where there are smaller classes, teachers who spend extra time with students who are struggling, budgets that support a strong library collection (print and digital), parental involvement, high attendance rates, higher overall income bases providing good salaries and faculty retention have higher student achievement than those that have large, overfilled classes and schools, with old, outdated equipment and supplies, with teachers who just. don’t. care.  As much as I might want to believe that it’s all about the librarian (or teacher-librarian, or media specialist, or whatever the title), I just can’t.

So here’s the challenge we face: there are many studies out there, all saying it’s about us and our presence, our program, in a school.  Can these studies be replicated (I know of a few that cannot be)?  Do they hold up to outside scrutiny?  And if not, why aren’t we demanding better studies?  Why are we staking our professional reputations and advocacy programs on questionable data?


Posted in School Libraries | Leave a Comment »


Posted by lpearle on 25 March 2015

Recently, there have been discussions (both at school and in popular culture) about who gets to use “the n-word” – the Oklahoma SAE “chant”, LiLo’s tweet are among the conversation starters.  I recently watched Pride, and there is a scene where some bystanders call the activists “queer” and the response is that there is a history in the LGBTQ community to “own” the word by using and thereby decreasing its power to hurt (remember the We’re Here, We’re Queer chants during the early days of AIDS?).  Last week a F/friend gave a presentation about the “Disorderly [Quaker] Women” who led the abolition and suffrage movement and asked the question, “where did ‘Quaker’ come from?” (it was deragotory; the founders, and the followers, called themselves Friends but now both are acceptable).

There is – obviously – a long history of groups taking an insulting word or phrase and using it themselves.  So why is this word different? Why haven’t other words been reclaimed (for a list of some of those words, see the Scrabble banned words list)? My theory is that it’s about the leadership of the group taking ownership, or not, of the word/phrase.  Yes, some of these words are out in popular culture, leading to some confusion among non-members of the group (the “if [singer/actor/comedian name] uses it, why can’t I?” complaint).  But are the leaders using it?

Aside: leaders is the wrong word, admittedly, but it’s standing in for “elders, respected members of the group, activists, etc.”

In the case of the word first mentioned, do we hear people like President Obama using it? Congressman John Lewis? Henry Louis Gates? Even Richard Pryor stopped following his trip to Kenya. Rabbis and Jewish leaders don’t use the words and phrases that denigrate them.  Ditto Italians, Chinese, etc. leaders.

So, how do we have those uncomfortable conversations about words that are unacceptable, when for some, using that word is empowering, or reclaiming, the word?  What is the role of the library, beyond ensuring that if the resources we have contain those words, they do so for defensible reasons?

Posted in Collection Development, Musings, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Was it worth it?

Posted by lpearle on 17 March 2015

Just before Spring Break started, there was a tweet (or a blog post, or an e-mail – I can’t find it any longer) about voting for the 2015 ALA Annual Ignite Conversations. So, being dutiful, I logged in to ALA Connect and voted.  The session was on the things we don’t learn in library school (and OMG are there many) and in some ways reminded me of the apron my father used to wear that read, For this I spent 4 years in college? Sadly, I can’t link to that session or reprint the description because for some reason I can’t find it again – nor can I find the two on LibGuides I know I voted for at the time.

The point is, this is one of those perennial conversations: I went to graduate school and the training didn’t prepare me for [fill in the blank skill/task].  Thinking back on my previous posts about what we aspire to be doing as good (or effective) school librarians, I also think about the things we do that we receive no training for, nor any discussion about, yet are expected to do.  I’m not just talking about things like fixing the printer/copier/projection devices, I’m talking about things like covering books.  You know, the basics.

It also made me think about the various things that we do that are outside our job description.  In speaking to several of my friends/colleagues, and not including the things we take on in a boarding school (like dorm duty), I come up with this:

    • Create professional development powerpoints and department-specific activities for our four days of school-wide professional development this year
    • Proofread faculty comments at end of semester before grades are released to students and parents
    • Create online forms and surveys for faculty voting on student awards and honors
    • Purchase all books for student awards.
    • Post principal’s newsletter online and distribute
    • Create class schedules for all students
    • Produce data analysis for each teacher in English and math based on formative assessments
    • Proctor all extended time midterms, finals and SATs.
    • Set up lists of students based on teachers and class periods in online formative assessment software
    • Collect acceptable usage paperwork and connect student and faculty-owned devices to the school network
    • Report issues with student’s school-issued 1:1 devices, pass them to the technology staff, get them back to students when issues are resolved
    • Working with every class in two grades to talk about standardized test-taking strategies
    • Supervise more than one hundred twenty students every day for study hall
    • Oversee morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up (“oversee” also meaning help students in/out of cars)
    • Supervise more than three dozen students every day taking online courses through our state system or through dual enrollment at the community college
    • Supervise student workers in coffeeshop each morning
    • Repair and collect monthly copier totals from the more than one dozen photocopiers on campus
    • Order toner, copier paper, bulletin board paper and other communal supplies
    • Create, then update, our annual district technology plan
    • Apply for e-rate funding; oversee expenditure of funds received
    • Oversee annual setup of online bookstore, work with students to download textbooks
    • Occasionally back-up front-desk receptionist and/or mailroom
    • Supervise lunch period, including outdoor recess

Does that make us less effective as librarians?  Or more effective as colleagues?


Posted in School Libraries | 2 Comments »

Pausing to reflect

Posted by lpearle on 11 March 2015

It’s Spring Break and actually about time for Spring, Break or no.  Afterwards comes the incredibly hectic run to the end of the year, a time filled with angst for the students (APs, finals, leave-taking) and faculty (planning for AY16 while finishing AY15).

For us, too, it’s a time to plan next year (did that research project go as well as it could? are the teachers open to more collaboration? if not, what can we still do to support the project/students/teachers? what new needs to be added to the collection so that we’re ready to go in September? etc.) as well as supporting what we can over the next couple of months.  One of the things I’ll be thinking about is what happened earlier this year, during a program we call InterMission.

The program is akin to a January term, or Winterim, where students forgo academic classes in favor of a mini-term.  We had something like this when I was at Emma Willard and when I was at Hamilton, although the Emma courses were two weeks at the end of December.  What was/is wonderful is that the students have the opportunity to really delve deeply into something for a period of time, knowing that there’s no graded outcome (like Emma, unlike Hamilton).  There were many courses where you could feel the excitement and engagement on the part of the students, something that doesn’t always feel as though it’s happening when they come in to do research.  There were also several seniors doing “capstone” projects that allowed them to really engage with a topic on their own, touching base with their faculty advisor early each day then going off to do research, think, program or whatever.

The question for me is how do we get the students that excited about research overall?  Not just when they get to pick the topic, but when they’re assigned something by their teacher.  When they sign up for an elective, they must have some interest in the topic – so why don’t I see that translated into their research projects?  Is it because of the way it’s approached, in terms of timing and expectations?  Is it because they have never really experienced the joys of research before?  Is it me?  For me, knowing how to cite sources accurately is the least exciting part of the process – the most exciting is the time spent searching for the resource, the answer to the question or some obscure piece of information that will make it all perfect.  The actual writing comes somewhere in between those two poles.

Last semester, a student was quoting an English translation of a German poem.  Because time was tight, I told her to watch what I was doing as I looked for (and ultimately found) the original English translator and publication information.  She was amazed at the tricks I was using to find the actual source, jotting down some hints for future reference.  We talked about how much fun that can be, knowing the answer is there and not stopping until it’s found.  If only we could build in time for them to just play with finding these things, but on topics they choose not proscribed topics based on the course they’re taking.  If only we could do this early on in their careers here, so that they could – as they progress through the years – have one such moment during each project.

How to make that possible, given time and curricular restraints, is what I’ll be thinking about over the next couple of weeks as I wait for the Mad Dash to the End to start.

Posted in Musings, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

It’s the little things!

Posted by lpearle on 4 March 2015

In the midst of change, and stress and angst, it’s the little things that make what we do bearable.  Before I went back to school and got my MLS, there were only a few of those times – I can count them on one hand, I think.  That’s not to say I didn’t make friends or have fun, but those surprising rays of sunshine seem to happen more frequently now that I’m working in a school.

For example, the reason I’m on Facebook is that a former student e-mailed to ask for personal reading suggestions even though she was still at school (her librarian apparently didn’t read much YA fiction, and never really tended to that part of the collection), and she also complained that she’d had to e-mail – why wasn’t I on Facebook, where she could reach out far more easily.  The first friends I had there were former students, all of whom reached out to me.

One of those students, a girl who’d graduated several years before, sent me a personal message apologizing for giving me a hard time one day.  Honestly, I didn’t even remember it but apparently she’d felt guilt about that for a while and this was her chance to get rid of it.   She’s not the only student who has reached out to apologize for being a teen.  And each time, they’ve mentioned that I’d been gracious about their behavior, which was what had stuck with them.

Another former student, from my first school, turned up as a teacher at my last school.  We’d bonded back them, even though I was only there for a year, and during the time we worked together he would occasionally come to the library for some “Laura time” – in part because not only had we bonded, but in the intervening 10 or so years I’d remembered him and the things he was interested in.  It’s those little connections that matter to students.

At my current school, we have Weekend Duty for about five weekends in the school year.  Duty can range from chaperoning a dance to driving students to the mall to a pizza making party.  One weekend, a colleague who was supposed to stay in one of the dorms while the housemother had the weekend off couldn’t make it.  So in addition to my other duties I was scheduled to stay in the dorm from 6pm – midnight, making sure the girls were ok.  This was in my mailbox a day or so later:


Just for doing my job!

And then there are the students.  They’re all very polite, thanking me for proctoring study hall or for driving them somewhere.  But as at all schools, there are some who stand out, who become “library groupies”.  There’s one, a voracious reader, whom I’m convinced is the daughter I’m pretty sure I never had.  There’s another who has come to me with some problems and asked for advice.   When new books come in, there are a few I know will be in soon, perusing the display and choosing what they’ll read over the weekend or during a Break (or, as I did as a student, instead of doing homework).  Some feel comfortable enough to joke with me.  Last week, three of them gave me hugs during study hall (for three different reasons).  Talk about the little things!

Finally, there’s Jenna.  Apparently one of her goals is to be mentioned in a blog post (yes, I’ve spoken with her about raising her aspirations and goals… still, who am I to deny a lifelong dream).  And I’m happy to do it – not just because of the wish-fulfillment, but because she’s one of the ones who in some ways reminds me of me, back when I was in high school.

I don’t think she’ll do what I did with my high school librarian, with whom I became professional colleagues years after working in the library as part of my community service.  One day I called her from work, saying, “Barb, I’m going to say something to you that no former student has probably ever said to you before, nor will in the future.  Thank you for teaching me how to cover books, because that’s one of those things they don’t teach in graduate school – and it’s so necessary to know!” When I next saw her, she handed me some mylar in celebration.

Those connections, those random acts of kindness and hugs and smiles and “thank yous” make the larger job so much easier.   It’s nearly spring, a time for hope and warmth.  We’re also rushing forward to the end of the school year.  As you reflect on the year past, the successes and failures, don’t forget to count all those little things.

Posted in Life Related, Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Don’t let me be misunderstood

Posted by lpearle on 2 March 2015

In my last post, I said that I was a failure – except, not really.  My programs are strong and by any standards other than those insisted on by the leaders in my profession a great success.  Which is why I’m not sure that the national association supposed to speak to and for me actually does… but that’s another post.

What upsets me is the rabid insistence (and it is rabid: there’s no discussion, no middle ground, just this way and no other) that the effective library program is one that promotes deep inquiry and co-teaching by technology/instructional leaders in the school, and if others wander in or want to schedule time, well… maybe you’ll give them some crumbs, while reminding them that you really only work in co-teaching situations.  That working on a fixed schedule is somehow akin to living in a dictatorship against which you should rebel, rather than trying to work  to still provide a great program. And that the only “real” school librarian is the one who is “certified” (I much prefer “credentialed”, but perhaps that’s because I don’t have state certification – and many librarians I know who do have it run bad programs).

It’s like the “I’m a librarian, I don’t do clerical work” crap I hear at times.  But I digress.

Here’s an example (one of many) that lets me know that my program is not only aspirational, but effective, and possibly great:

Several years ago, I was working with middle school classes on a fixed schedule.  This was less than ideal, as we met twice in a seven day cycle, and sometimes there were long – and I do mean long – gaps between classes.  Even better, this was only half of the class for one semester; I saw the other half earlier in the year.  It made for awkward integration into their research project, as I could go over things in class with only half of them.  Anyway, we worked on how to do research (I prefer FLIP-IT to Big 6, but whatever works for your students is best, right?), evaluating sites and so forth.  Then, towards the end, inspiration hit.

One of my nieces was on the trip to Mexico that brought back Mexican/swine/H1N1 flu to the US, and was actually quarantined (another digression: is it really quarantine if you’re attending baseball games? and by “baseball game” I mean the NY Mets, in Shea Stadium?).  Then a school nearby said it was closing for two weeks as a sort of self-quarantine.  My mother got worried about me, about how I would do since I have some autoimmune issues.  The next day I walked in to class and said, here’s the project: we’re going to research this flu and the end product will either be me telling my mother than I’m a (then) 45-year-old woman who can make her own decisions OR she’ll write a note to the Head of School excusing me from work because of the flu.  The students loved it!  Rather than a project they had to do because the teacher wanted them to, when they really didn’t care about the topic, here was something they were concerned about and heard about at home.

Two years later, when these students were in Upper School, I was leaving and a candidate came in to teach a sample class.  He asked about how one started to do research and one boy – you know, that boy, the one sitting in the back and never quite paying attention – raised his hands.  He remembered the acronym, remembered the steps but didn’t quite have the wording right.  So, here was a class totally separated from the curriculum, on a fixed schedule, not really doing “deep inquiry” and two years later that boy remembered what he’d learned to do.

That’s not the first, nor the last, time something similar has happened. Could working with this group on a flexible schedule, with deep integration into their class, have had that effect? I don’t know.  I suspect the answer is “no” because no matter how deep and rich the project is, if it doesn’t capture the student’s interest, they just won’t care.  And in a K-12 institution, very little comes from a student’s deep interest in a topic, and far too much from the teacher’s need to have a research project or the curricular requirements.

We, as a profession, need to celebrate these little victories while aspiring to move our programs further.  We need to stop making people working in the trenches, in conditions that are not ideal (multiple buildings, unfair student:librarian ratios, fixed schedules, no budgets, etc.) feel shamed about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.  If the library is used – as is one I know of – as a study hall and the librarians supervise “credit recovery” let’s not shame them for not fighting for more.  Perhaps they already are.  Perhaps they know that if they do, they’ll have even bigger problems in their school.  Perhaps they have already gotten as much concession as they can and are happy to have survived that fight.

Shame on the shamers.  It’s one thing to say (implicitly or explicitly), “here’s to what you should aspire” and quite another to say, “shame on you for not doing a better job”.  We need to reach out, to provide tips and tricks and support.  It’s shaming when we say there’s only one way to be effective, it’s shaming when we say that if you don’t follow a prescriptive set of standards, you’re not being a good school librarian.  We need to be less rabid and more open-minded to the different ways programs are effective, to encourage aspirational dreams and confer greatness on more of our peers because they’re doing good work, just maybe not the “effective” work AASL envisions.


Posted in Musings, Professional organizations | 1 Comment »

Aspirational Librarianship

Posted by lpearle on 27 February 2015

In the September/October issue of Knowledge Quest, Buffy and Kristin coauthored an article that suggested that there was a widening gap between the standards and expectations AASL promotes and the reality many of us face in our schools (even those of us in well-funded independent schools not tied into e-rate funding/filtering, with 1:1 iPad programs and not required to undergo state testing).  As I read it, my head nodded as I recognized challenges that I and others have experienced.

Let’s look at the first question they pose, “What does it mean to be great?”  By AASL’s standards, the programs I’ve worked with are failures.  Collaboration and co-teaching with every teacher hasn’t taken place.  Even worse, I don’t insist that teachers work with me on every project!  Of course I’m open – but if they can’t, or if a project gets cancelled (for example, due to too many snow days) or truncated, I do the best I can and move on.  Those projects may not be as deep and inquiry rich as they’re supposed to be.  Sometimes students graduate without having done any deep research at all.  And then there are the non-integrated information/research skills classes, ones that may tie in with an ongoing project but are fix-scheduled and year-long, so the content doesn’t always have a curricular match. I take on non-library related work (like overseeing the online bookstore set-up, or proctoring lunch in the cafeteria while leaving the library unattended).  Leadership in tech?  That might step on our computer science teachers and tech integrators toes, let alone the Director of IT’s position on where the school is going.

Do I feel like a failure? No.  I aspire to what AASL considers “excellence”, keeping that as a potential goal while looking at the reality of the situation on the ground.  Only one or two projects that go further than a 3-5 page paper with bibliography?  Great.  Bring it.  I can work with that and aspire to building a stronger connection with others in that department or in the school that lead to deeper inquiry.  Need me to take on a fixed scheduled class?  Ok.  Let’s see what I can do to bring skills into the class even if there’s nothing curricular to work with, like evaluating information about current events or finding credible resources on topics of personal interest.  I can aspire to moving to a flexible schedule, or to integrating (slowly) with what the classroom teachers are doing.

Then I read Judy Moreillon’s response to the article. I think she missed the point.  My reading of the article wasn’t, “let’s get rid of the standards and the expectations and the high bar, instead let’s focus on how to help librarians in schools do the best possible job with their situation.” She’s dead right about the fact that for some, meeting with every class, every student for deep inquiry-based projects is simply impossible due to the student/librarian ratio (at my school, it’s 160:1; at my cousin’s selective high school, it’s 450:1; and at another NYC highly selective high school, it’s 1506:1).  But this paragraph made me cringe:

Working with these educators and students should be a priority for school librarians who will continue to serve other students on an as needed basis and work with teachers who engage in cooperative planning and schedule the library in open times that are not being used for in-depth learning. (If the library is large enough, multiple classes can use the library space at one time, but only those teachers who have planned with the librarian and scheduled the librarian’s time as well will have the benefit of her/his expertise.)

Really?  Maybe in a public school where the union can protect you but at my school?  If I told teachers that they could come in, but I was only going to work with the ones who have collaborated with me beforehand on the project creation?  I’d be looking for a new job, not to mention having an incredibly empty library space as the teachers stayed away in droves.  Last year we had one week where we had 10-13 classes in every day (there are only 7 periods in a day) and we worked with every one of them as the teacher needed – none of them did the level of collaboration that I aspire to, but hey, maybe next year.  Let me build the relationship, slowly showing them how I can add value to their projects and becoming a partner with them.  I’d rather be overwhelmed with students asking me questions despite a lack of integration into the class than sitting there at the information desk listening to the crickets.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Here’s the thing about aspirational librarianship: we know where the goal posts are, and we hope to some day get there.  But for now, in the real world in which we work, we need help and guidance on how to do our jobs better without alienating teachers and without insisting that if we’re not adhering to what AASL says we should be doing/being we’re just not being valued or doing a good job.  To my mind, it feels like the equivalent of being the old-fashioned shh’er: my way and only my way in my library.   Thank you Buffy and Kristin for raising the question.

So, what answers do you have?  To what do you aspire?


Posted in Musings, Professional organizations, School Libraries | 8 Comments »


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