ALA and AASL along with other divisions work hard promoting the value of libraries and librarians with legislators, the community, along with the various partnerships they have built over the years. If these efforts are to succeed, librarians need to be stepping up their game in their own buildings consistently demonstrating their importance to student learning and to the entire educational community.
What does this mean? Leadership is not an option; it’s a job requirement.
By being a leader you prove you are essential—and indispensable. Those of you who read this blog along with the School Librarian’s Workshop tend to be leaders. In order make the most lasting impact, you need all the librarians in your district to be leaders. One single pro-active librarian surrounded by those passively doing their job is not enough. I urge you to reach out to these librarians. Learn what’s holding them back. Provide encouragement, advice, and support. A month ago I blogged about mentoring. Offer to be a mentor.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t a leader when I began my career, but I soon learned and saw the importance of continuing to develop as a leader.
In 1973, I became the elementary librarian in a new school modeled on the British infant school concept. Grades 1 and 2 were together as were 3 and 4, and 5 and 6. Teachers at each double grade level worked in large rooms with dividers separating them from the others. They planned their units together. This highly collaborative model, overseen by a principal who was open to new ideas, led me to finding different ways for students to learn, mostly on their own and guided by me and their teachers. My role became vital for the success of what happened in the classroom.
Energized by what was happening, I began taking on new challenges. I became an active member—rather than just a dues-paying member- of my state association and then AASL. Although the term didn’t exist, I developed an extensive PLN. When the time came to automate my library, I was an early adapter and I knew qualified librarians in other states who guided me through the process and made me look good. I took on more leadership roles in my state association and wrote a book. My confidence kept growing and my ability to explain the importance of librarians and what we do grew with every experience.
Assure those who have not taken the plunge into leadership, that all they need to do is to take one small step. Focus at first on what is easy and natural to you. Go to leadership institutes if your state association offers them. Read what others are doing and try doing it on a smaller scale if necessary. Anyone can become a leader. All that is necessary is the will, and all of us must be leaders if our profession is to thrive.
Who among your colleagues needs to hear this? How can you help?