Reflection: on entering the library

E contacted me today thinking about career changes, or sidesteps moving from classroom teaching to some of those rarer positions in schools like teacher-librarianship, and asked what are the differences between being a classroom teacher and being a librarian.  Moving into my fourth year in the library, I had a lot to say.  Here’s my response:

I’m doing my M.Ed. right now with a focus on teacher-librarianship. To my knowledge, there are only 2 programs of this calibre and distinction in all of North America…the one I’m in at the University of Alberta is completely online. The other is at the University of San Jose …and I don’t know much about it except that in my program we reference a lot of the work being done there.

I love being a librarian. Doing my M.Ed. I’ve discovered that I could happily move into educational research for the rest of my life. I’m actually going to be teaching one section of media arts (back with real students of my own!) this coming semester. I really miss being able to plan curriculum and I really miss developing relationships with students. However I love the autonomy of working as a teacher-librarian and I love the diversity of the topics and questions that come at me all day long. There’s an awful lot of psychology in the library that I hadn’t anticipated … coaxing students and staff to try new things all day long and building their confidence to go for it. I’d say my job is 3 parts: advocacy, collection and technology. I have a blog if you want to check out my process in learning how to be a librarian, and I’m also really really into Twitter. So do I take my work home? Yeah…reading and information and sharing it is totally addictive and I pretty much do it every waking moment of every day. It’s a total obsession.

However, the role of librarian is completely morphing and you have to be prepared to go there with it. It’s exhausting trying to be the change agent all the time and I feel like my persona is now “that quirky girl with all those crazy ideas”. I’m not sure that they’re taking me seriously. I stimulate a lot of thought maybe, but change takes forever to happen. I have let go of the need to be the expert in the room and I hear myself saying “I don’t know but let’s go find out!” all day long. I read professional reading with breakfast, listen to an audiobook on the car to and from work, and read a third book again before I fall asleep at night.

And most of the work I do is never seen and I have to be ok with that. Going from teaching English/drama/media arts where there were shows and accolades and contests to library meant putting down a lot of ego. I’m trying to get comfortable with servitude but I humbly accept that I may never get there. Like teaching, it’s really busy and always different, but there’s a reliable structure to my day that makes it all possible.

Not sure if I inspired you or scared you, so ask anything.


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  1. I’ve been amazed how the teacher-librarian role has changed over the years. The teacher librarian at my school is brilliant – teaching students how to research, running Battle of the Books, supervising student book clubs, and rearranging the library so that it is now a fun place for students to be.

    At least in the case of my school, your leadership does not go unnoticed 🙂


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