Excuse me, can you sign these out?

It happened.

Four times this week.

Four times.

It happened again and again and again and again–my perceived job title was called into question.

With our library resource assistant at lunch (or having left for the day) several students showed up at my office door to ask me if “the librarian was around” because they wanted to “sign out a book”. The last inquiry asked if I “knew how to sign it [book] out for her” to which I replied, “I think I know how to do this…it looks easy enough.”

Ha ha! Joke’s on them (or on me?).
Apparently, I’m not the school librarian or teacher-librarian for that matter.

And quite frankly, I’m OK with that…

Sure, the students see me in the library, in classrooms, and throughout the school helping them recover lost documents on the computer, giving advice on purchasing mobile devices and tablets, asking to proof-read resumes and short stories, needing help finding credible resources for a project, requiring MLA formatting, assisting with scanning documents, uploading their files to Moodle, resetting network passwords that are forgotten, flogging new books on our closed-circuit TV channel, reading in the library (oh the shame!) and arranging guest speakers, chess tournaments, and music Mondays in the library…

And yet, I’m not the ‘librarian’.

I’m not your parent’s librarian. And apparently, I’m not the students’ meme of librarian either. .I don’t spend hours weeding shelves, signing out, and repairing books. Inventory? Personally, I’ve never done it. Chasing students for overdue materials? Not sure of the finer details of that process either. And does it really matter?
So, what do I do? I simply service students and teachers at whatever level that may be. Just a small sampling of what I offer our students and staff:
  • find suitable reading resources
  • assist and collaborate with inquiry-based projects
  • introduce and demonstrate learning resources
  • teach about plagiarism and avoiding it
  • use of open web and online databases (dark web)
  • maintain a robust professional learning platform
  • present at EVERY staff meeting
  • be a technology leader in the school and in the district
  • promote all school events via social media outlets
  • blog, tweet, and connect to grow a robust PLN
  • share digital resources and 2.0 tool

But, what’s in a name (really)?

My professional association, the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association, is exploring the reality of polling its members as to whether or not a name change is indeed necessary. The argument being put forth is that the term ‘librarian’ (with the ‘-teacher’ added on or not) is loaded with connotations, stereotypes, and sadly, perceived limitations. It might be fair to say that many school and district administrative officers do not really know what their teacher-librarian does. Or maybe they do…either way that might be a problem.

What’s in a name? Of course, the name change debate has been around for nearly thirty years and there are variations that many jurisdictions have selected: ‘library media specialist’, ‘cybrarian’, ‘library specialist’, ‘library resource personnel’, and ‘school media specialist’ to name but a few.

Other responsibilities don’t even seem to fit anywhere under the typical ‘librarian’ monicker:

  • liaise with local media to promote
  • member of our school leadership committee
  • member of all departments (including attending those meetings)
  • school technology leader and advocate
  • member of school district and community-based committees
  • promoter and supporter of our local public library and our relationship with them

Because, quite frankly, I’m not a librarian. I never was. Don’t have a MILS (Masters Information and Library Services) up on my wall (I have no intention of getting one.). I have a professional learning network that has grown exponentially in four and a half years. I read professional-related literature daily and share with colleagues alike.

But, I am a teacher, learner, connector, collaborator, supporter, leader, and cheerleader. And if that makes me a ‘teacher-librarian’ then perhaps the shoe does fit…

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