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Dear colleagues, thanks you again for your help in compiling issues in
school librarianship.  Following is the hit, with some repetition but left
in because viewpoints were slightly different.  This is long.

Barbara Wall
Krieger Elementary School
Poughkeepsie, NY

Job situation/lack of respect
Selecting/evaluating material/ age appropriateness
Collaboration-- how do you get teachers to do this
How to keep up with the latest tech stuff-- why does everybody else know
what "insert latest" means but I don't?
Way to chill out/ relieve stress
Finding good online resources- when is there time

elementary reference books - are they still needed?
literacy coaches - book rooms - reading teachers - are we communicating with
them - or getting left behind because money is going toward those things
impact of economy on elementary librarians (and lack of NYS mandate)
wonderful new technology available to librarians that wasn't available even
5 years ago
do children today read books as much as they used to - esp as they get into
intermediate grades
flex versus set schedule

In my honest opinion, although library preparation programs stress the
importance of collaboration, too many do not realize that it is their job to
meet the needs of the teachers and other staff in their buildings.  We are a
service profession and often times our own needs or desires need to be set
aside to accomplish a goal for the greater good of the library, and most
importantly, the students.  This may mean going out of our way to help a
teacher who ignored an inservice on webpages put together their own page or
simply finding information for a teacher as a reference librarian would
instead of teaching them how to find it themselves.  We forget that any
"little thing" that temporarily inconveniences us may be the one thing that
convinces a colleague or student to return to our space so that we may help
them again.  Our job is to assist students and staff in achieving
their goals while somehow accomplishing ours at the same time.

Having just marked a truckload of masters-level uni assignments which
focused on "an obstacle facing the teacher librarian in creating an
information literate school community" the most common issue when everything
was unpacked was the lack of understanding of the role by the principal and

There were many symptoms of the issue such as
* ?         the perception that the role of the teacher librarian is so
influenced by their personal experiences and remains rooted in the 'keeper
of the books" memories;
* ?         the perception that any clerical can do the job because it is
just circulation and shelving and so no teacher librarian is employed and
teachers  have to make do
* ?         the lack of understanding that collaboration will improve
student outcomes because 'collaborative' does not mean 'competitive';
* ?         a lack of time to collaboratively plan or collaboratively plan
and teach;
* ?         a lack of understanding of the whole concept of information
literacy and that it goes beyond 'locating a resource';
* ?         the view that information literacy, which is our specialist
subject, is an add-on not the cross-curriculum perspective it should be;
* ?         a lack of understanding that print and digital resources can
live happily together and that an information search is more than clicking
on a link suggested by Google
* ?         an inadequate budget which fluctuates at best and is
non-existent at worst;
* ?         a perception that reading fiction is all about reading age and
test scores and not something just for enjoyment
* ?         a perception that education itself is all about test scores
* ?         the lack of recognition of the value of the role amongst
principals who configure their school's staffing
* ?         the absence of any requirement to work with the teacher
librarian on internships etc during teachers' pre-service education

There were many more and if it all boils down to one solution, then that is
evidence-based advocacy.  However, while it might have been necessary to do
this in the late 80s/early 90s when the role changed dramatically, I have to
ask why, 20 years on, all the work seems to have fallen on deaf ears!

Well, my project for the year is web 2.0 (and other new/newer technologies)
and how they might be used in libraries.   So you might consider that as a

For me, I think the most critical thing we can do as media specialists is to
help pave the information highway for our staff and students.  We show them
how to navigate the internet and other information sources, and bring all
the tech tools to them) so they feel free to explore and experiment with
ways to show their understanding and create new knowledge.

This past year was my first at my school, so everyone had to get acquainted.
Luckily, I have an outstanding assistant to work with.  She noticed that I
always printed out emails from the teachers asking for materials, and noted
on the back what materials I pulled for them.  She asked why I kept a file
on all this and I told her that one topic we discussed in my Info Science
courses was validating our time and having something to show to principals
(or others) who questioned what we did when we were not shelving books.  I
had a very thick file by the end of the year when it was time for my
evaluation - and it documented every teacher I had helped, every topic I had
pulled materials for, every time I had come in early or stayed late to help
with any program... The few extra minutes of creating that paper trail was
well worth it.  Making what we do more transparent to those we work with can
be an effort - but can also yield better understanding on their part.

1. When I was hired for the position, my supervisor told me that the
administrators/central office were very eager to have as much collaboration
with classroom teachers and support of the curriculum as possible from the
library media specialists.
2. Stemming from that collaboration/support issue would be the need for
clear and helpful communication with the classroom teachers about how I can
best support them or collaborate with them - such as having them provide me
with a list of the units they teach, the skills they are covering which I
can help reinforce, special events such as Science Fairs/Living Wax Museums
etc. that need support materials, and wish lists of books and materials that
they would like to see added to the collection.
3. From my own perspective, I agree with my supervisor that I need to "be
there" for the teachers, BUT - I really want to be there for the kids.
Learning what their interests are, what writers or illustrators or genres
they prefer, what they feel needs to be added to the collection ... those
things are just as important as material for the curriculum.
4. Also, not just collaborating with the classroom teachers, but the other
special area teachers (art, music, P.E., guidance, computer lab) and even
the other staff at school (like the cafeteria workers) is important, too.
The guidance teacher loves it when I share articles on bibliotherapy with
her.  The art teacher was incredibly grateful that I ordered a set of DVDs
about famous artists and their work and that we received the Picturing
America materials that I had applied for.
5. Working with parents.  Everything from helping parents of ELL students to
choose books for their children, to answering questions about reading
levels/A.R./popular series...
6. Being there for the whole community, not just teachers or students.
School staff come to me with questions about how to locate books their
grandchildren will enjoy.  The local gardening club that helps with our
school grounds also borrows the library for meetings or even asks to set up
displays to share their love of plants with the students. I guess you could
call this being a hub for the learning community.
7. In today's economy, more than ever, fund raising is an issue.  Book
fairs, donations, working with the PTA ... What do you do when the central
office gives you $0.00 to purchase new materials, but you know that there
are things out there that your school needs.
- censorship vs. selection - the danger of personal views of the librarian
entering the selection process; is it sensitivity to the community or
censorship in some purchasing decisions; do students fully agree with the
ALA's statement regarding access to information; representing all viewpoints
in a collection, etc.
- - technology - tools you could not live without; examples of projects
using those tools
- whether or not to use gaming or Facebook, myspace, twitter and other
social networking tools in libraries
- fixed vs. flexible scheduling on the elementary/middle levels
I think getting boys to read is huge and not killing the love
of reading. I just finished reading Readicide: How Schools are Killing
Reading and What You Can do About It by Kelly Gallagher. It made some
interesting points. The past few years I have stopped being what I'd call a
book elitist - only buying high literary quality books in hopes that
everyone would love them as much as I do, and purchasing more non-fiction
titles like Yuck a Big Book of Little Horrors, Bat Boy lives! : the Weekly
world news guide to politics, culture, celebrities, alien abductions, and
the mutant freaks that shape our world, Do Not Open, for example. These are
books many of my middle schoolers will pick up just to browse through, and
many times they are hooked when they start flipping through. Don't get me
wrong, I still buy the great, well-reviewed books, but don't limit myself to

I think the biggest issue - at the upper level perhaps - is technology and
how we are rapidly painting ourselves into a corner by sticking tightly to
our bookshelves.

Districts (including ours) have discussed hiring a "Curriculum Resource
Integration Specialist." What the hey? Isn't that what we do? We can no
longer be just keepers of the books.

I think we have survived aligning ourselves with the reading/language arts,
or literacy programs but ideally all programs should be aligning with us -
we should be the resource gurus for the whole curriculum. So, we probably
should be a lot more aware of web-based applications, video streaming, mp3
audiobooks, e-books, databases, web design, paperless research, etc.

1.  Using librarians as babysitters - this applies at all levels, K - 12.
Whether it is  using the librarian as "planning time" with no teacher
participation or taking care of High Students assigned to the library for
study hall, this continues to be a problem, as it has during my 29 years as
a librarian.

2.  Teaching in isolation - this applies to elementary school especially.
Planning with teachers is great if they are willing to plan with YOU.  You
must be invited to plan with them.

I think the most frustrating issue for me is the lack of understanding of
what a library program is, what it can provide with the right support, and
what it needs to run efficiently.  Fixed schedules to provide planning time
for teachers leaves us out of meeting and planning with them.  Open times
with no classes are viewed as so much "free time".


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