Posted by lpearle on 7 August 2014
The other day I was having lunch with a librarian friend when she mentioned the name of her new Lower School Librarian (my friend is the Director of Libraries for a K-12 school) and how she now has a dream team. Knowing the people she’s working with, I have to agree. Another school I know also has amazing librarians in all three divisions, and consistently “grooms” interns who then go out and Do Great Things in other libraries.
Having worked in four libraries now, three as part of a team, I know how difficult it is to craft and sustain a Dream Team. Sometimes you get one member who, for whatever reason, doesn’t buy in to the vision you (and, with luck, the school) have for the library. Sometimes everyone is on board with the vision, but there are external issues, like transfers or parental leaves, or something similar, that break up the team. And for some, as Wendy says, there are external reasons why people won’t apply for jobs that could lead to a Dream Team situation.
At the moment, I’d say I’m in a Dream Partnership – since there’s only one other librarian, and no assistant, “team” seems an overreach. What does that look like? It’s when everyone has a similar vision, but there’s the ability to disagree, to tweak and to continually rethink that vision. Working as a solo librarian for eight years, I know the danger of not having that other person’s feedback and input! It’s also an excitement, an eagerness to get things going – a reluctance to just do the job, with minimal effort. Reading or hearing about what’s going on elsewhere and having the ability to reflect on how that could work (or wouldn’t work) at “home” is critical (I’ve never understood people who go to other schools or conferences and can’t imagine changing anything they’re doing).
It’s also important – critical, really – to have administrative support. Some schools don’t know what they really need, or want, in a library and if you have the support to make changes that will lead to a better student experience, great. Some schools prefer to have that traditional library program, not embracing the idea of librarians as teachers and educational partners – if that’s your school, maybe that works for you and that’s great. But if you’re interested in innovating and changing, you may need to look elsewhere (granted, that’s not always the easy route or the most available, due to economics or family).
In my case, I have both a partner who not only supports but suggests changes and an administration that is willing to let us make those changes. Could things be better? Sure. We could have an assistant. We could already be where we think we should have been a few years ago and plotting moves far beyond that. We could have an even larger budget (we are very well-funded, but it’s never enough, is it?). But truly, it is a Dream Partnership and I’m eager to get started on Academic Year 2015 and see where we end up in June!