Posts Tagged advocacy
I’ve been quietly seething for the last few days and as my opinion hasn’t diminished I’m hoping a wee rant and public posting will allow me to move on.
Have you seen the new Lego Librarian in Lego’s mini-figures Bio series?
I guess we need to celebrate that Lego has acknowledged our profession and immortalised it in Lego. That is pretty cool. And honestly, I don’t mind the cardigan, I mean, well, aren’t they kinda chic this season?
No, it’s the mug that I take exception to. The mug with its “Shhh!” message! What is with that antiquated librarian image? Surely, the Shushing Lego Librarian isn’t a stereotype that we are happy to identify with?
Thank goodness for Mr Library Dude’s humour. Joe Hardenbrook (aka Mr Library Dude) wrote a thoughtful piece on Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians and went on to digitally redesign twenty-eight Lego Librarians – a brilliant assortment of librarian personalities, examples of how the public may perceive us, including satirical captions.
Regardless, the “shushing” mug has got to go. How about a “search engine” or “knowledge creator” coffee mug instead? Would these slogans be as immediately identifiable as a librarian? Sadly, I think not. Enhancing our professional image is certainly worth fighting for.
Any other suggestions for librarian coffee mug slogans?
This fabulous cartoon came to me via Teacher Librarian Network on Facebook tonight.
What do you think? Is this the future? Swallow a pill and you’ve read a classic? Have the characters in a book step out and become a projected holograph on the wall in front of you? Robot library staff? Will we reach a time when paper books are just a fond memory?
I personally think not – at least not for a while. A quick pop quiz this week with a bunch of Year 10 classes as they passed through my booktalking clutches and quizzed them on their library usage – ours I know about, but I was interested in whether they used the public library. Most did not, and it certainly depended on the kind of class they were. Higher streams using it more than lower. Students seem to have had a range of experiences when they’ve been mixing it up in the public libraries. It seems staff there aren’t familiar with the kind of things they need, perhaps remembering from their school days what they required, or even more enthusiastically encouraging them to look at new things about which the particular librarian they approach is an expert. I think there is some room for public librarians to get familiar with the kind of things our students study, to find out what topics are taught and to make contact with school librarians to talk curriculum matters. What books work for subjects, what won’t work. That at least is the feedback I got from my guys. The quest for information to complete assignments often yields better results at school because we are working as a conduit between teaching staff and students, providing specific titles which match specific topics. We know the level of the resources the students need, and we can tailor our advice to the right level. (There is an exception to this though, one public library in our area is hugely popular with the students and has an ex school librarian manager, students report that they have loads of things that are useful and that they want to take home, that is awesome!) However I know that often the experiences of students at public libraries when on a quest for information are often less successful than if they took their query to their school library. The school library has purchased specifically for that curriculum area, we know the kind of information which will work for the student.
At school we are tailoring our stock specifically to our target audience, it is youth specific and responding to feedback from teachers and students. No robots can do what we do! In a school we are tailoring our services to our students, to the people we see in front of us every day. Micro tailoring if you will. This just isn’t possible when you are catering to a while town or city with a Public Library. They have more buying power than we do, are able to stock more copies of popular items but are more general in their approach because they have to be but in terms of having a specific focus on youth and the curriculum then the school library is where it is at. We should celebrate our specialness, and think about the students we have who are using the public library for homework and research and think about who is taking them there. That would in most cases be a parent. Do the parents think about the resources in the school library in the same way that they think about the public library? I think that perhaps parents are assuming that information is information and that the public library has a youth section and therefore will be able to cater to the needs of their kids. But that ain’t necessarily so bro!
Parents, your kids should use the school library as well as the public library, most times instead of the public library when it comes to resources for homework. This is our specialty area. Our whole library is a youth section! This again makes me wonder. How many parents ever set foot in a school library? Not many I’m thinking. There is scope for a parents information blitz here I think. Something to mull further on.
Reading this article in the School Library Journal reminded me of a recent conversation with some English teachers at a conference where I presented on the topic of How To Get a Kick Ass Librarian. Those teachers told me that they really didn’t understand what it was that their librarian did all day. They told me that mostly their librarians were in their workroom and mostly sitting at their computers, even when there were classes in the librarie, and that they wouldn’t think of asking them for help finding them or the students resources, they didn’t seem to think that their librarians would want that. Frankly, I was shocked!
I asked the teachers what they thought the librarians were doing on their computers and they told me that they had no idea. One even told me she had worked in the librarians office for a period of weeks in order to find out what the librarian did all day and at the end of that time was no wiser. They told me that the librarians very rarely came out of their workrooms and then only to tidy shelves and maintain the library. They said they thought there was a complete lack of understanding of what librarians did. I think there is a complete misunderstanding of what librarians can do!
This is a problem though. I investigated further. I spoke to English teachers at our school. I asked them if they had experienced ‘the librarian is in the workroom and is staying there syndrome’ and there was an overwhelming yes response to that. They suggested that it is not normal practice in schools for librarians to be out in the library assisting them and their students. So, all the current talk in SLANZA circles about EBP and proving how what you do makes a difference to teaching and learning in your school is for naught if school librarians are not out in the library and making that difference, but instead are sitting in front of their computers doing …. something that is probably very useful to them, but not to the students and teachers they are supporting. And we are support staff, we are supposed to be supporting those people. Yes through resourcing the library (perhaps that is what some of that computer time is about) but also through working with the staff at your school, alongside them and therefore alongside the students – you know the ones whose learning you are supposed to be making a difference to. You aren’t going to make any difference to them at all if you sit in your office all day. Yes you have to do the cataloguing, the processing and all those other library business things, but you have to make a difference and the only way you’ll do that is to get out there and be with the people using the library.
Now I’m not suggesting that you are a teacher, or even a teacher aide. I am suggesting that you are the best resource in the library. That you know heaps of stuff about what you have in there, where you can get more, that you are a key person with a distinct role in the school, come on folks, talk yourselves up, get out of the office and live up to the talk. You know your school needs you, needs your skills, needs the resources you provide. Get out, sell yourself, sell your services and get out of that workroom. You can do the workroom stuff when classes are not in the library.
So who does see what you do? Is it only you? Who would notice if you didn’t do what you do? How many of those things you’ve always done are vital to the students and teachers experience of the library? Have a think about it.
Daniel Handler and Maria Kelman who have written the book Why we broke up, are seen in this video singing an ode to libraries. Sing it loud and sing it proud!
When you’ve finished singing along go check out the Tumblr for Why We Broke Up.
I really enjoyed this story about a story by Daniel Pinkwater which was used on the New York State Test which primary school children sat. As New Zealand now has National Standards this story resonates!
Shared on Facebook by Support School Libraries. They post lots of interesting links on there and if you are interested in advocacy in school libraries you will find good stuff there (not all of which is relevant to us, but some is).
It is great when you read something early in the year which you can carry with you in your toolbox of ‘useful stuff’ as you begin the year. As you begin the process of indoctrinating your new students to the ways of a new library, helping them to see the value of the library, the services you offer to the school and the students, and getting new staff up to speed with what you do. Judy O’Connell has posted on Hey Jude a wise and thoughtful writing which made me feel inspired and enthusiastic for the coming year. I heartily recommend to all school library staff that you head over and have a read. It is called The Time For Libraries Is Now. The slideshare is fantastic!
There is a video embedded in the post, which I can’t get to embed here which is a Core Video in which Lisa Oldham from the National Library Services To Schools, whom many of us have met and it is a great promotional video of the sorts of things that many school libraries in New Zealand are offering, could be offering, best get on and offer!
Welcome back to school after a lovely sunny holiday (if you live in the South of NZ) or a rather soggy holiday (if you live in the North) anyway for me a holiday is a holiday is a holiday and even if the weather is disappointing, at least some books will get read, some jobs will get done, people who are important to you will have been greeted and smooched and you will have some new shoes in your wardrobe (or is that just me?). So it is back to the seriously fun business of library, here is my (Bridget’s) first posting of the year.
This one actually comes from the end of last year on the Australian Listserv. My friend Lisa Salter presented at the SLANZA Conference 2011 on reporting to your board and principal, and Ann Wheeler has made an Issuu with a heap of helpful ideas and links including a link to Lisa’s presentation. If you are looking for an innovative way to present your stats and library info then this Issuu is really worth a good peruse.
You can find a link and yet more good stuff on this page at Linking for Learning.