I have been mulling over this post for awhile now but have hesitated to write it, because I fear it will end up being a rant. That being said, if you are a teacher librarian that can't handle the truth, you might want to stop reading.
Over the last couple of years I have become fond of comparing professionals to rotting fruit. For instance, when you look at teachers, one rotten apple doesn't reflect badly on the whole bunch. This is simply because there are enough of them to outweigh the bad. Whereas, one bad or negative media coordinator in the bunch reflects badly on the whole group. Our numbers in the barrel are far less, and we want to be careful about the message we send.
This whole concept is why all media coordinators need to take a stand. I am not saying we need to attack those that are not building those quality media programs. I have seen that tactic out in the Twitterverse/blogosphere, and it just isn't pretty. In fact, it is a major turn off for me. I know that many media coordinators fear this bad rap that arises from the rotten apple, but I don't think that is the approach that will garner true media coordinators the respect they deserve.
So how do we move a profession forward that is misunderstood and in many cases misrepresented? I don't know that I have all the answers, but I certainly think what we are doing is not working. While at a conference this week I overheard a conversation that indicated that media centers might not be needed anymore. Really? My thought there is that they just have not been in the right media center. How do we educate those people who don't have a true understanding of the role of a school library media coordinator?
First, I think we have to move our focus to students. It's hard to focus on instruction when those teachers are beating down your door wanting you to fix their LCD projector, computer, etc, etc. When I was in the media center it was hard to tell teachers that I just could not fix their "x, y or z" or tape their National Board videos. To be honest, I tried to fix all of those things, and I was not happy. I felt like I was not really accomplishing anything of value. Then, I had the epiphany that moved me away from that role. I was there for students. Yes, I want to help teachers, but what was my true priority? That's not to say that librarians won't help with those things, but they should not take up the bulk of their day. Make it known that you are a part of the instructional process. I don't care how you do it, but for the sake of our profession you need to be an instructional leader and role model.
Our school buildings are not the only places where we need to be showing our instructional prowess. It is with other librarians. A few Negative Nancys have the ability to sour a whole group. Should this be the case? Absolutely not! District PLCs should be about building up the profession not tearing it down. Often those bad apples are our most vocal, so how do we shut them up and help them move forward at the same time? Often their complaints focus on the fact that administrators don't understand what they do, blah, blah, blah. It's always about blaming someone else. We don't need to commiserate with them. Instead we need to ask them how they plan to change this perception. Yes, it would be nice if upper level leadership understood our jobs, but we have to give them a reason to want to.
Maybe I have posed more questions than I have answered, but I am tired of a profession that I love so dearly being left out to rot. Take a stand, find your voice and be heard!