Posts tagged ‘Librarianship’
by April Bunn, Media Specialist, Teacher-Librarian, School Librarian
NAME CHANGE ALERT!
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) decided to change our job title. We’re going to be called School Librarians… again.
The board of directors voted for the change at January’s midwinter meeting in Boston. The response has been heated.
|Response to the news:|
Many feel this name change represents a loss in a long-standing battle with our image . University of Washington I School professor and school library advocate Mike Eisenberg responds, “To me, it’s retro – conjuring black and white images of stereotypical 1950s librarians.”
My first response is one of fear. Taking the words ” media specialist” out of my title will just give the powers that be (Board of Ed. or the state) more juice to eliminate my job. Public and academic libraries have held on to the traditional title without change through the years, so what’s the difference? In schools, we’re in a crises of unknown identity- Administration still doesn’t know exactly what we do.
“Branding” the Name and the Space
In New Jersey we are School Library Media Specialists- at least that’s what’s listed on our teaching certificates- but not necessarily the name listed in our outdated job descriptions and contracts. In other places the most common title is Teacher-Librarian. In a power-house packed webinar, called What’s in a Name?, Mike Eisenberg encouraged us to find a consistent “brand” in what we do. Our librarians, our spaces, and our local and national organizations all have different names (i.e., Media Center, School Library, Information Center). In the Garden State, we were ahead of ourselves when the Educational Media Association became the New Jersey Association of School Librarians in 2006, to match the national organization of AASL, and help people understand who we are. Maybe we just didn’t see that this change was always in our future?
Do we need the word “Teacher”?
As an elementary teacher, I would prefer to have “teacher” (Teacher-Librarian) in the title, but either way, it’s a “kinder and gentler” name for what I do- Media Specialist was always a foreign concept to young children. It also coordinates much better with my colleagues in public and academic libraries.
The problem continues to be that the public doesn’t understand all that we do in a 21st Century learning environment. As a single-operator school librarian, I wear every hat, from traditional storytelling and book searches to Web 2.0 infused lessons, and I work every day to keep my program afloat and dynamic.
In an effort to include advocacy in this post, I looked for a good job description for our position. I like this one, by Sara Kelly Johns, President of AASL (and currently running for ALA President), describing our essential (and varied) role in the school-
- work with educators to design and teach curriculum
- create curriculum and promote an engaging learning experience tailored to the individual needs of students
- evaluate and “produce” information through the active use of a broad range of tools, resources, and information technologies
- provide access to materials in all formats, including up-to-date, high-quality, varied literature to develop and strengthen the love of reading
- provide students, educators, and staff with instructional materials that reflect current information needs.
Budget Cuts & Lost Jobs
If the state and school boards really understood what we do, they wouldn’t approve massive job eliminations during budget cuts, like the local situation in Woodbridge, where they eliminated all the elementary school librarians, serving 16 schools, in a massive budget cut this year (by the way, in that article, they called them “librarians”).
If there is a person in the position of school librarian who is indispensible, making an impact (and showing it!) on student achievement, creating a culture of collaboration, and being a leader in the integration of 21st century skills – whether that person is called a school librarian, library media specialist, or teacher-librarian – they will survive this and any future budget crisis.
- Nancy White, on CASL’s blog
I love my job, no matter what the name or the place is called. I pledge to continue to work as hard as I can to keep my board and community aware of what I am doing as Media Specialist, Librarian, or Teacher-Librarian in our Media Center, School Library, or Information Center.
School Libraries Work!-outstanding resource, including research statistics on the impact of school libraries on student achievement.
NJASL Advocacy Wiki- great resource, including procedures and contacts divided into areas of concern
I hope we can save ourselves before it’s too late, and stop this nonsense of cutting positions that are essential in the 21st Century.
Core competences for librarianship were finally defined at the very recent Midwinter Meeting in Denver, where the ALA Council passed the resolution, and this Tuesday, ALA sent out a press release summarizing the resolution and providing links to the core competences site and a pdf. The document defines the basic knowledge to be possessed by all persons graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program in library and information studies.
The core competences “stress the role of library and information professionals in promoting democratic principles and intellectual freedom, knowing and applying the legal framework guiding libraries and information agencies – including laws relating to copyright, privacy, freedom of expression, equal rights and intellectual property – and identifying and analyzing emerging technologies and innovations.”
I especially enjoyed reading from their press release the “identifying and analyzing emerging technologies and innovations” phrase above myself!
Do take a look at the entire core competences doc for all of the details when you get a moment.
Since Julie tagged us over here at LG in the Superstararchivists meme on ‘how you got into libraries’ I am taking up the keyboard! I’ve really been enjoying reading all the other stories and seeing the similarities and differences, and reading all the comments!
I’m sure I’ve told this story to several people, but I’m not sure if I’ve written it anywhere… my journey to librarianship starts out with me never having had any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up!
I felt supremely jealous of the people I knew who seemed to know just what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. The college students who were getting degrees in something specific, something they could DO or BE at the end of four (or more) years … the classmates who were already planning to be pre-med, or go into business, or become teachers … the even younger friends from my early childhood (“I want to be a fireman!” “I want to be a chef!” “I want to be a mom!”) made me feel so left out.
Not having any plan in mind, I pursued “liberal arts” (like all other confused, direction-less sorts I guess) at a “liberal arts” college, hoping to stumble upon IT. IT, you know, what I would want to do or be forever! This allows one to keep all options open and to hopefully emerge as a well-rounded individual at the very least (though probably a very impoverished one).
I entered as “undeclared” my freshman year. I spent a brief time as a Sociology Major (until I found out we would have to spend a lot of time in a local prison for one course, and I was out of there). Then, not being allowed to return to “undeclared” status, I chose English (the safety net for all). This only lasted until I finished my first few Philosophy classes and found myself signing up for as many more as I could! I came to the utterly logical conclusion that if I were going to take so many Philosophy classes, I should major in it.
I love Philosophy classes.
I am going to take as many Philosophy classes as I can.
Therefore, I will be a Philosophy Major.
(Okay, so my Logic is a little rusty!)
Of course, this created the corollary:
So, I graduated with my Philosophy Major* and could not stand the thought of ANY MORE SCHOOL (bye-bye law school)! I went to work in the publishing industry in Manhattan for several years. When this was ultimately unsatisfying to me (especially the NJ-NYC commuting), I began to look around for another career. I was willing to go back to school, but only for something that I really wanted and would really love. I took a job as a administrative assistant at an engineering company close to home (no commute!) while I (again) searched for what it was I would BE.
Fully convinced I had NO INTEREST whatsoever in anything related to ENGINEERING, I decided to look for a similar office job in a different setting while I continued the search for my ultimate career.
On a regular trip to my local public library one day during this time, I noticed a sign advertising for an administrative assistant in the library! Ah, same “just a job” job, but more pleasant environment! Ah, I could go to the library everyday – wonderful!
Now, I had always been an avid library-user and read my entire life. My mother and brother and sister and I were regulars and would routinely leave with bags and bags full of books. I had spent many hours in the library – both for pleasure and for schoolwork, but IT HAD NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO WORK IN A LIBRARY. NOT EVER. NOT ONCE. I had never thought about who these people working in the library were, what their qualifications or jobs might be. I had NEVER in my entire life of library patronage ever considered being a librarian. In fact, I had NO IDEAS about that job at all (something that makes me wonder to this very day how it could be so and what’s so very wrong with that picture, and what needs to be done about it…..)
I applied for the library office job (and didn’t even get a call actually) but I also started RESEARCHING what this librarian job was all about. The main things I found out were:
- It requires a Masters Degree, and is a REAL PROFESSION (what I was looking for)!
- It has to do with books, reading, AND COMPUTERS (things I LOVE)!
- It involves sharing INFORMATION and helping others FIND their INFORMATION (something I already did with a passion)!
PERFECT!!!!! I had found IT. IT – the thing I wanted to DO and BE for the REST OF MY LIFE!
I found out how to become a librarian (step 1: take the GRE – yikes! – step 2: commute to Rutgers for a long time) and started telling friends and family of my PLAN! The reaction was the same from almost every single person I told:
(Oh, duh, of course, well why didn’t any of you let me know sooner?!)
I began my library studies and soon after got a part-time job as an intern at the wonderful Clifton Public Library. (I had been hoping that I would LOVE the public library, even though I knew there were other possible types of libraries to work in, but public was what I wanted to love and, lucky me, I DID!) This position soon wbecame full-time while I continued with school, and then become a full librarian job upon graduation! I have since worked at the also-wonderful Paterson Free Public Library and now work for the really wonderful central regional library cooperative!
So, there really was no “one thing” that led up to my self-discovery that I was really a librarian deep down inside all along. It was just a series of regular little steps along the path of life that only prove to have been heading in an ultimate direction once you’ve arrived at the end and look back.
And, just to be clear, I do consider myself to BE a librarian. Even though my current job title does not include the word library anywhere in it, it is what I am, it is who I am, and I am so glad!
* Actually, I have since found MANY librarians with B.A.’s in Philosophy. Also, my sister went on to major in Philosophy and is doing just fine, thank you very much!