Friday, September 16, 2011

The winds of fall challenge my library role

For the 3rd time this week I heard that our budgets will probably be cut again by up to 25% next year. I also have heard principals are questioning the value of keeping librarians in the face of all these cuts. They ask the why keep a librarian if they can get a full FTE classroom teacher that make more of an impact on kids?

My neighboring district to the south who has district employed/building specific librarians have already cut 1/2 their HS & Middle School librarians and just this year cut 1/2 their elementary librarians. Other districts are headed the same way. What does a half time librarian look like? Well, due to equity discussions- one librarian often serves two schools (sometimes a few days in one school then another, sometimes full weeks).

I'm really curious how effective I would be if I was only 1/2 time in a school? If a teacher is collaborating with me and gets behind in curriculum, maybe I can't float back and forth. How can I build relationships and trust so that I can collaborate if I'm only part time?

Perhaps a bigger issue is what is the role that librarians or teaching/collaborates will be playing in their buildings in the future?

Will we be Learning Specialists who focus more on professional development and 21st century learning standards as Allison Zmuda, Violet H. Harada suggest. Will we be developing a Learning Commons or instructional Facilitators as Koechlin Luhtala and Loertscher suggest? (February 2011 page 20)

I think if we are really going to be an active part of the future learning for our schools, we need to play an active role in the change that is coming. There may be some parts of our jobs that it is time for us to let go- perhaps some carry over from the "old librarian model". I'm not sure what those are, but I wonder what things we aren't willing to let go that might hold us back from serving our staff and students? Are you willing to give up reading picture books? Book talks? Being the sole coordinator of your collection development? What things keep us from being able to collaborate with teachers, training staff, work to support student achievement and 21st century learning skills?

Hmmm. Lots of thinking for a Friday am. I would be very curious to hear your thoughts! What will the new role look like? What can we do to best help kids? Thanks for your help!