So it begins (again)…
Jane Byers Goodwin tweeted, sarcastically, last week to a colleague: “Aren’t librarians mostly an in-house sub paid to sit alone in an empty book-filled room most of the day? Many admin. think so!”
I have been asked by my administration to ‘sub’ only once in three years while in the position of teacher-librarian. But, I work(ed) to make myself unavailable to ‘babysit’ the kids: I involve myself in various school-wide and classroom activities and events (organizing, taking photos, creating videos and slideshows); I meet regularly with my administration to share my short and long term plans for both professional development and the library itself; I operate and oversee our student-run in-house daily TV broadcast station; I continue do some of the small (and dirty) things that are not in my direct job description (administer school website and Moodle platforms) off the side of my desk.
Essentially, I have positioned and made myself indispensible to the operation of the school. I have been able to show my administration that what I offer is a ‘value-added service’ above and beyond those offered by the standard teacher-librarian.
That’s what I believe you have to do–there’s really no other alternative–make yourself indispensible. Develop a value-added routine. This is an attitude above all else.
And yes, I often wrestle with the lack of time in a given day. Who doesn’t? And so I have to be clear: I’m not sure that teacher-librarians with less than .5 FTE are able to effectively carve out their specific niche. But, I hope that I’m wrong about this.
Me? Even at .75 FTE I find it a struggle to even spend 3/4 of any day directly in the library. While everyone starts off with the same number of hours in a day, it comes down to how we utilize those hours that matters, right?
And ultimately, I really only care about what my administrator believes about my position at the school. While it would be great to have more teacher support, there are more colleagues in the district–like the Superintendent and Director of Instruction–that know what I contribute and that I offer a ‘value added’ service: I am a member of two district steering committees; I have been a staff union representative for two years; and I am currently a member of the school professional development committee. Recently, I was invited to sit in on a workshop for school administrators (only 1 of two people not administration to receive an invite), and I am heading back at the end of the month by invitation to begin a dialogue about discussing possible long-term educational technology plans for our district. I also received an invitation to represent our district next February in San Jose, CA for an IBM education technology retreat.
Isn’t it the responsibility of every teacher-librarian to actively carve and shape their landscape regardless of their circumstances? If they don’t, then who will?
Should we not be destroying these stereotypical perceptions of school administrators about what it is that we do in our empty-book filled rooms all day (which by the way in my school is the busiest room in the building from 8-4 on any given day…and don’t even try to come late at lunch–you won’t be find an empty bean bag chair or quiet corner anywhere…)?
Sorry, but I simply do not have the time to sit alone in an “empty book-filled room”.