I Love Being a Librarian

As the summer was coming to a close, I had a thought that I never imagined would enter my head:  maybe retirement wouldn’t be so bad.

Who I Am at the Core

I am now in my 36th year of education.  Education has been, and continues to be, part of my core.  I am a nerd from the tip of my auburn head (not so much my natural color now)  to the hot pink polished nails at the end of my toes.  As a classroom teacher for 29 years, I loved interacting with teens and our discussions about literature. I loved reading their writing (well, maybe the research papers tested my soul) and discovering the individuals behind the faces in my room.

When the opportunity to leave the English classroom and head into the largest classroom in the building was offered to me, I was both excited and hesitant.

Excited because now I would have the chance to interact with more students, collaborate with more teachers, and guide both through problems they were having with technology.  I would be able to recommend books to more students and be surrounded by books and technology all day long.

Hesitant because I worried if I would still be able to form that teacher/student bond when I didn’t see the same students every day.  Relationships are the core of education.  I love teens and want to help them through the angst of the teenage years and celebrate with them when they achieve their goals. I had this discussion with my mentor, Sally Hursey, who promised me I would still have those bonds.

CC Image Attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/47823583@N03/4382573949

Best Career Decision EVER!

The first three years as the lead librarian at my school were stressful as I was also taking courses at the University of South Carolina‘s School of Library and Information Science.  Fortunately, I had a wonderful mentor to guide me through the transition from the classroom to the library.  (And for those of you who haven’t made the transition, let me tell you, it is a different world!  That is a blog post for later.)

However, I loved every minute of librarianship (well – except grappling with the budget).  I have never been more fulfilled by my career than I am now.  School librarianship involves ALL of my passions:  students, teachers, education, reading, technology, collaboration, teaching, and forming relationships (I needn’t have been hesitant about taking this position!).

I was reminded of this today as I began going through the posts that have collected in my Google Reader through the first week of school with students.  One of my favorite blogs is TLT: Teen Librarian’s Toolbox.  In yesterday’s post, “Libraries Are the Beating Hearts,”  one of the blog’s authors shared how libraries/books/research have helped her through some of life’s difficult times.  She ended with this, which sums up my feelings about libraries and being a librarian as well:

I love being a librarian.  I love walking in the doors of a library.  I love opening the pages of a book.  I am honored every day to be a part of the beating heart of a community.  Support your libraries just as you would take care of your heart.  Healthy libraries are the same as healthy hearts, and without them our communities die.

Fleeting Thought

So, back to the beginning of this post:  I was amazed that I even considered retirement.  After two weeks back at work, I am pleased to say that I still love every moment of my job. Meeting new students who love reading is so rewarding, as is meeting those who don’t and being able to put the right book in their hands.  Twenty-one classes came through the library this week to check out books and I loved working with each.

Summer?  Yes, I enjoyed the freedoms it offered.  But now I am back where I belong and couldn’t be happier!

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Three for: Library and Classroom Free Lessons and Printables

This morning as I was pinning, I came across several great FREE items.  Who doesn’t love free?

Lessons

  • Use this search:  “Lynn Farrell Stover” “Library Sparks” This generous lady shares her Library Lessons – and they are awesome!  They are geared for elementary students but I have found ideas to “eduplay” with my grandsons.  (Hmm…don’t know if that term will catch on.)
  • The Book Bug‘s Destiny (catalog) exercises – for elementary, but I know I can use the general idea for my high school students:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8Hp3hxOmva9ekZhUVdUWkZKd28/preview  If you have some time, surf through her site.  Treasure trove!
  • Teacher Vision’s Library Resources for Teachers Most of the activities are geared toward elementary and middle school students, but some can be modified for use with high school students.  For example, librarians can add another level to the Dewey Relay game which divides students into teams tasked with being the quickest to locate books with a specific Dewey number.  Perhaps combine this with gathering citation information to have students not only locate, but also use, library resources.

Printables

Screenshots:

“Remembering the Titanic” from the PDF available from Highsmith at www.highsmith.com/pdf/librarysparks/2012/lsp_mar12_ll_titanic.pdf

“Always, always, always consider the source” from Technology Rocks Seriously’s Scribd. document.  http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/2012/01/blog-post.html

Define: librarian

Librarian Avenger by Librarian Avenger.

*I began the draft of this post in April, but wasn’t inspired until recently to complete it.

Earlier this year while going through my reader, I came across a blog post that questioned broadly applying the term “librarian” to those in our profession.  I found this intriguing after the brouhaha surrounding the Association of School Librarians (AASL) decision to again to refer to us as “school librarians” rather than “media specialists.”

How do others define librarian?

A quick search on Google turned up these:

“a professional person trained in library science and engaged in library services” (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=librarian)

“A librarian is an information professional trained in library and information science, which is the organization and management of information services or materials for those with information needs…” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Librarian)

Not very enlightening definitions, are they?

A teacher teaches….

….so a school librarian _________?  Librarizes?  Why is there not an alternate form of the word that acts as a verb?  But even if there were, it would not be able to capture the essence of what we as school librarians do.

The following is an excerpt from the post “Librarianship and Burnout.”

“But it seems to me that the family resemblance of all librarians, to borrow Wittgenstein’s term, is not so much the nature of individual librarians’ work as a shared belief and faith: the belief that information and knowledge is to be treasured and someone must work to deliver and preserve this information and knowledge accumulated throughout human history to the public, the faith that access to information and knowledge is a basic human right and it should be equally provided to anyone who desires to learn. If someone asks what I do and asks again what that means when I reply that I am a librarian, this is the answer that I should give rather than enumerating all the mundane things like setting up e-resources for a trial, filling out the paperwork for my grant project, updating web pages, and going to lots of meetings.”  Bohyun Kim, author of  The Library Hat” blog

I A a School Librarian! And Darned Proud of It!

In these test-the-kids-til-their-brains-have-been-fried crazed days, school librarians must work harder than ever to assure our communities that we are essential to the educational system.  Pulling the plug on library programs may seem to be a quick and easy way to cut corners in this economy, but it would leave many of our students and teachers afloat in a sea of information awaiting the Perfect Storm.

And so, school librarians must enumerate “the mundane things” as Bohyun Kim refers to them, as well as the exciting and collaborative “things” we do.  If you have not read Joyce Valenza’s updated Manifesto for the 21st Century School Librarian, then you must.  Go ahead and read it.  I’ll wait for you to return.

Can I be honest?  I felt so overwhelmed when I read her post, that I wanted to cry.  I thought I was doing a pretty danged good job of working as a 21st century school librarian until I began to compare what I do to Joyce’s list of 81 bulleted points.

I feel certain that Joyce’s intent in writing that post was not to make me cry or to discourage all of us who work daily in the trenches.  Joyce’s passion for her job is palpable.  She demands the best from herself and expects no less from any other school librarian because our students and teachers deserve it.

So, instead of throwing myself a pity party after I read the manifesto, I printed it and am using it as a guide.

How many of “them 81 bulleted points” can you honestly say you demonstrate?  I haven’t counted yet, but I know I have quite a ways to go.

Photo attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/librarianavengers/481593155/in/set-72157600010008696/