Tuesday, June 26, 2007

School Media Specialists...

Any school librarians out there?

School librarianship has never appealed to me. The certification process is so insane you end up only getting to take, like, 1 elective during library school. You have to deal with all the funding and NCLB bullshit like teachers, and, if listening to sections of my teacher-friends is any measure, you get no respect from the teachers. And we all know how much respect educators get from the world at large, especially in the elementary range. I couldn't do it.

The first letter in the June 2007 issue of School Library Journal broke my heart. Not only does the author bemoan complete lack of ALA support, she wonders:

So when I get phone calls from public librarians offering to do booktalks for me or teach my students how to use electronic databases, I have to wonder, when will the rest of the profession get a clue as to what school librarians do?

Ouch. I would like to stand up and say, as a public librarian who makes those calls, I know what you do. I also know how many hours are in the day. I'm just trying to offer a little support. Unfortunately, the only support I can offer is in the "fun" stuff. I can't write up your monthly reports. Also, sometimes the message gets across better when it's a special, guest speaker. AND! There aren't a lot of places for me to booktalk that isn't in the schools.

Plus, as a public librarian, I need to promote my collection as much as possible and you can give me a room full of captive people.

As for the lack of ALA support, is this true? I have very little interest in ever dealing with this headache, and there is way to much in ALA to entertain me, so I haven't paid attention. Does anyone else out there have thoughts?

And, on this topic, let me here give a big shout out to Jeff Carpenter, school media specialist at Edison Elementary, back in the day. You obviously warped my mind, because look at me now.


Liz B said...

Oh, I saw that and had the same reaction! Yes, I offer booktalks and to talk about Library Resources.

But after the wince I had frustration; because I also say, but that's what I'm thinking I can do (and, by the way, my local middle school said we're fine with the online databases but would love the booktalks, so some school librarians welcome them), anyway, I also say, or whatever else I can do. I offer to meet at whatever time they want to find out what they want that I can help with.

And when I read the letter, my question became, ok, if you don't want/need those 2 things -- PLEASE PLEASE tell me what you do need. We both serve the same kids, just in different ways. And if you have a better way for me to do so, let me know.

Jennie said...

Liz B--

I think it's also in how we, as public librarians, approach the schools. I know we often ask, "What can we do to help you out?" And then offer database instruction or booktalks. We often get called to do booktalks usually at the end of the year to get Summer Reading going, or to talk about the databases that we have at the public library that aren't available in the school library.

But I feel the same way you do-- we're both serving the same kids, in different ways, and we need to find a way to work together to serve them in the best way possible.