Saturday, March 1, 2008

What Do They Do All Day?

"The suburban housewife -- she was the dream image of the young American women and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world. The American housewife - freed by science and labor-saving appliances from the drudgery, the dangers of childbirth, and the illnesses of her grandmother had found true feminine fulfillment." -Betty Friedan

In many ways, School Library Media Specialists are like stay-at-home Moms. Their skills keep things running smoothly but often garner little praise. Everyone assumes that they're available at the drop of the hat because "you have so much free time".

No one sees the behind the scenes stuff: professional readings, collection weeding, book ordering, online research, Inter Library Loans, etc. Collaboration is difficult because of fixed scheduling: classroom teachers' planning time is covered by library instruction time. Since the Library Media Specialist is frequently the only librarian in the building (or district, in a K-12 school), chances for professional interaction are limited.

This is not the situation in all schools, but it is the situation in my school, and in many more. Like the stay-at-home Mom, I look for ways to advertise my worth, connect with others, demonstrate that my time is filled with meaningful employment. And I make sure each day that I step out of the "kitchen" and into the world.

"Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?" -Neil Gaiman, The Sandman (Line spoken by Lucien, Librarian of the Dreaming)

"1937 Kitchen" by
Todd Ehlers


Anonymous said...

Stepping out of the kitchen/library is so important, you seem to do that very well, especially via the blogosphere and twitter :-) I didn't blog when I was a stay-at-home mom, but I can certainly see the draw of it and if I were back in that role now, I probably would. As for librarians being special - you ARE superheroes. I work in 10 computer labs maintained by Library Media Specialists and I admire every single on of these women (hmmm, all women - could a man handle it?). Can't wait for your twitter-mentioned post on the juicier stuff!

Ann Oro said...

We've lost town librarians. It's not until someone new comes on board who is not up to par that people start seeing what a difference a great librarian makes. I have to say that I didn't appreciate the skills and abilities that go into the job until I had a computer lab connected to the school library.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the architect Joshua Prince Ramos' TED talk? He was behind the design for Seattle's public library, and it really is a fascinating talk. I blogged about it here, if you fancy taking a look:
Incidentally, I think, in many ways, a librarian's job must be so much harder due to the sheer multitude of ways we have now for transferring knowledge. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

really nice analogy. And like most moms, librarians are really nice and helpful. I think they'd give me a band-aid if I had a hurt too! ;)

diane said...

My life as a stay-at-home Mom would have been very different if I had been blogging then! Juicier stuff will have to wait until retirement :-)

I feel the same way about computer teachers - truly our jobs are becoming intertwined as the search for information moves out of the LMC and into the big, wide world.

Your photos convey so much feeling and, yes information, without words. Thanks for teaching me new ways to see.

I would give you a band-aid AND a cookie!