Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let's Get Visible, Visible!

In the fall of 1981, I was an avid reader, taking eighth grade by storm, on a mission toward my goal in life: becoming a school librarian. I just didn't know it then.

I could be seen in our small school library, thumbing through that wonderful card catalog. Remember back in the day when they still taught the card catalog -- subject, author, title cards -- and the oh so many skills-in-isolation lessons. I was brilliant at using an index in any reference book. I was a mighty fine almanac user. I was the best map reader in my class, loving the atlas the best. (Look at all the great places you could imagine yourself to visit!) I always had a book, fiction or nonfiction, possibly a volume of the encyclopedia, with me. (Okay, I was a geek!) I was always seen trying to get more information, out of my teachers or out of some book. I was a highly visible student motivated by the quest for information!

I really have absolutely no idea what my middle school librarian did, though. I remember she was nice. I remember she said my name sort of fancy like: Dee-onna. I remember her sitting at a classroom-type desk in our library. Honestly, though, I don't even remember the lessons she taught us, and I definitely never remember seeing her outside the school library.

As a school librarian now, I wonder if this teacher of thirty plus years ago was visible to her colleagues at all. Was she big in her professional association? Was she part of her school's leadership team, budget team, school improvement team, or the equivalent at the time?

Did she move beyond the walls of the media center, do poetry breaks in the hallways, collaborate and team teach in core classrooms? Was she visible in the cafeteria or in the carpool line booktalking with students? Could she be seen at PTA meetings, department/grade level meetings, or athletic events? Did she plan, instruct and access students? Did she facilitate workshops for colleagues, present at district and state meetings, or provide parent resource workshops?

Was she visible to her students, teachers, parents, business community? Was she VISIBLE to her PRINCIPAL?

In her August 6th post, Kelly Brannock quoted Gary Hartzell -- success flows to the visible -- and offered a challenge for us all to SHOW how the school library is essential. If you're not up to the challenge, if you choose to remain incognito in the shadows of school libraries past, then you'll have to accept the consequences of remaining in the dark (job cuts, devalued library programs, lower student achievement).

But if you choose to be VISIBLE, to step up to the challenge, to make the hard decisions and the big changes that will impact your teaching and student learning, then go boldly, go brightly, go BIG and be VISIBLE!

We're right there with you!

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