I'm just now catching up on my blog feeds in my Google reader, so apologies to those who may have already read through Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog posting of April 21st, "Dangerous Statements for Librarians to Make". Some of the statements really do emphasize how we can be our own worst enemies when making our cases for our library media programs.
Here are some of my favorites:
But the school HAS to have a librarian/library. Really? So we don't think they could do without us and our programs?
If all we're doing all day is sitting behind the circulation desk and checking out books, then yeah, they can do without us. A paraprofessional, an assistant, even a parent can scan those barcodes to check out those books to the voracious readers that clamor through our doors.
With facilities budgets being cut and school populations growing, that space we call a library media center would convert nicely into about three classrooms. Just move in some portable walls and voila! More space for instruction!
Oh, we instruct, do we? Well, that reminds me of another favorite line:
Correct bibliographic format is absolutely critical.
If our instruction revolves around colons and periods being in the right place of a bibliographic citation, then we're feeding the stereotype of the anal retentive librarian, in my book. Why aren't we helping students evaluate websites? Or helping them craft a thesis based on the preliminary investigation they are doing on a topic of interest? Or working toward creating processes that will build foundations for their research?
Maybe here's our problem: The research proves that libraries improve student achievement.
Well, bully for the research! But we can show all the research in the world to our principals and our staffs, but if it's not data and research that DIRECTLY impacts OUR students and teachers, it's probably not worth a hill of beans. Do our teachers and kids really care about what happened in Colorado ten years ago? A resounding, "No!"
But our teachers do care about the fact that we've spent all year working with our students at one particular grade level to implement a process to improve students' research skills and access to information. They do appreciate the time we put in with them and their language arts students, helping to create rubrics and instructing those students in cool technology tools to enhance their multimedia book reviews. And those same teachers are probably excited that we introduced them and their students to blogging which they now use on a regular basis to deconstruct and flesh out content, ideas and concepts in their core content classes.
But ultimately our actions have to speak for themselves. What we do for STUDENTS has to be the focus of all that we do. We have to be ACTIVISTS.
And don't believe this statement for a minute: I can advocate for my own program. I don't need anyone else vocally supporting it.
In today's budget crunch, teacher lay-offs, and central office down-sizing, we need all the support and advocacy that can be mustered for employing strong teacher librarians. But that support has to come from our students and teachers and most especially our administrators.
If we aren't being ACTIVE, relevant, innovative and information-savvy TEACHERS for our students, then how can we expect anyone to support and advocate for librarians in our schools?