President’s Message, February 2009

Library Legislative Day is approaching on February 26th and I have been asked to speak for 5 minutes that morning. I have been trying to decide what I should say to a room full of public librarians, academic librarians, and school library media specialists. Should I talk about the economic crisis and how it has affected us? Should I talk about why we’re important to our respective communities and patrons? Should I relay some of the stories I’ve heard about LMSs doing with little to no funding while at the same time feeling the pressure to contribute to student achievement and better test scores?

Well, as my Dad was fond of saying, all of that is “preaching to the choir.” The library professionals in the room know all of these things. We are living with it every day as we juggle our increasing circulation with our decreasing funds. We are breathing it every day as we bring yet another computer back from the dead just long enough to perform one more time before needing another boost of life support.

It is time for us to stop repeating the message of our importance to each other and start demonstrating it to our administrators, our teachers, and our school community. When Rep. Linder recently said he did not see the need to require a library media specialist in the elementary or middle school it wasn’t because he was being cruel or dismissive. He does not see the need because he does not know what purpose we serve in those schools. When legislators want to “temporarily relax” expenditure controls on media funds it isn’t because they don’t support libraries or information literacy. It’s because they do not know how those funds are applied to direct classroom instruction, curriculum support, and the implementation of information literacy skills. They see a large sum of money with a misunderstanding of what that money is for and it’s just too easy to pick it up for redistribution.

I think our legislators support quality schools and the tools necessary to support a quality curriculum. They want students in Georgia to graduate from high school and be competitive in the nation at large. They want our (and, let’s face it, their) children to be properly educated in an efficient, results-oriented manner. They understand the need to be competitive in math and science hence the proposal for pay increases to fully qualified math and science teachers. Are math and science just doing a better job in the PR department? Well…yes.

What do we do? We advocate! We educate! We stop wringing our hands and hoping the world at large will realize how important we are. We go out and make sure they know where our importance lies. We make a daily effort to influence student success with our particular area of expertise. We certainly need to be competitive in math and science; however, who is going to make sure the math whiz knows how to evaluate information for accuracy? Who is going to teach the student with the scientific mind how to navigate through the countless databases and online sites to find what s/he needs to move forward? More fundamentally, who is going to help those math teachers and science teachers locate the quality resources they need to teach the concepts in the first place?

We are, my librarian friends. We are.

Don’t keep it to yourself.

Until next month…

About susangrigsby

I am the District Media Specialist on Special Assignment with Forsyth County Schools, Georgia. In August, 2017 I will become the middle and high school librarian at the United World College of Southeast Asia (East Campus) in Singapore.

Posted on February 9, 2009, in Communications, Debate, Ideas, Reflection. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you, Buffy. You hit the nail on the head, too. Presenting at conferences OTHER than library or technology conferences is a GREAT way to let present and future educators know why we matter and how we can help them bring about student success! You represent us well.

  2. Susan—you hit the nail on the head with this post. We must be agents of change and lead by actions in all areas of our learning communities.

    I did three presentations this past weekend at the Georgia Council of Teachers of English Conference this weekend (which was quite wonderful, I must add!), and only one person in my session on “Research Pathfinders 2.0” had heard of a research pathfinder. I felt lucky to have an opportunity to show classroom teachers and professors who work with preservice teachers the promise and potential of school libraries as a partner in teaching and learning.

    The conference was a wonderful opportunity to show classroom teachers what we as librarians can do to support them and their students and to discuss the importance of information literacy as a mainstream form of literacy in today’s information rich world.

    Now is not the time for us to cower in a corner hoping to escape notice. Now is our time to make people sit up and take notice of the significant role we can and should play in the lives of our students and teachers. Let us all double our efforts to advocate for the role we play and our power to bring about real change in our schools!

    Buffy Hamilton
    Media Specialist
    Creekview High School
    Canton, Georgia

  1. Pingback: Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled: Words of Fortitude for Librarians « The Unquiet Librarian

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