Fall: A Time to be Busy (and Remember What We Do)

I don’t know about you, but fall is always incredibly busy for me as a librarian. Between orientation, starting to collaborate with teachers, and attending conferences, every moment is good, but every moment is full, too. Through the course of the last month or so, I’ve experienced and reflected on many things that I’ve been wanting to share but haven’t had a chance, so be on the lookout for a series of posts in the coming days. Off the top of my head, some of the topics will include: 

  • the changing role of the librarian in a 1:1 environment (continued)
  • the launch of my makerspace, including creating a leadership team
  • attending the School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Washington, DC
  • various experiences at the Virginia Association of School Librarians’ annual conference.

However, the one thing that I have really been thinking about is a comment I heard a fellow librarian make during a session at the VaASL conference this weekend, which is going to be the center of all of these posts:

just-a-librarian

When I heard this comment, it struck me so hard and so profoundly, it took everything in me to not go off the deep end right there in the middle of the session. The comment was made towards the presenter, who did a great job of adjusting her mindset, but two days later, I’m still thinking about this comment.

I have absolutely no idea how some librarians can think that they are “just” librarians. Maybe it’s because I see such influence in our job. I see our ability to bring insight into situations that others don’t see (or are unable to see). We advocate for everyone in our school, including students who may not have anyone else. We support freedom to read, to access information, and for students and staff to be themselves in a world where being yourself is not always okay. We create a safe space for ideas, thinking, and collaboration. The library may be the only safe space that some of our students have to do these things.

No, I am not “just a librarian.” I’m not. I love my job. I love that I can effect change in my school, from big ideas, policies, and procedures, to fulfilling small requests like “do you have a pencil sharpener?” or “Maybe you should let us [students] help you with that.” I empower students to go after their dreams, learn something new, or find resources to burning questions they have. I support my teachers in their craft, ease their workday by finding websites and other resources, brainstorming activities, and co-teaching lessons with them. I make my school better by creating a place where all feel welcome and safe to explore any topic that interests them.

Sorry, but I’m not “just a librarian.” And you aren’t, either. We have true power and influence in our schools. When we think we are just librarians, we’re not acknowledging the crucial position we’re in to make everyone’s lives better in some small or large way, through resources, space, or being a friendly ear. Please don’t ever tell anyone you are just a librarian. We should be proud of who we are and the role we have in our school. Our students, staff, and administration depend on us to do our jobs, and do them well. We do, so don’t diminish the power you have – to yourself or to others. Acknowledge it, embrace it, and use it. They are counting on us.

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