I have been spending time lately in other areas -- capital L Librarianship, international children's literature, advocacy, and I have been spending more time at school on administrative tasks (whole school, not library -- technology planning, state standards, pulling together emergency curriculum). Not to mention my far-from-ideal temporary space. With all these preoccupations, sometimes I forget what an incredible lot of great work school librarians are doing all over...
That's why this was the perfect time for me to go back to School Library Journal summit. I have been to many of these, in Chicago twice, in Scottsdale, Fort Lauderdale, Crystal City. They are always stellar. And seeing all these librarians from all over, here on the weekend and most on their own dime, to improve the libraries in their schools is inevitably heartening. But this time it was like a homecoming. So many old and new friends, it felt like half the people I knew were in the room...and it has given me some courage I've, frankly, been lacking.
I know I was more audacious in my old position. I had tenure, I had a body of colleagues in the district, including the terrific Holly Whitt, who won the SLJ/Lego Build Something Bold! Award at the Summit. I had central office people I knew I could ask for help. Things are different in a smaller district, and I've appreciated how that helps the students. Things are weird on the state level, too, with more bodies titularly working on library media but with what results? Not to mention that I have spent much of the past two years biting my tongue, when I moved into a temporary space with poor climate control, termites, and leaks, when my principal didn't give me materials funds last year, when I had 147 students assigned to the library for classes this year. I'm a team player, but I'm not a magician.
There are a lot of question marks with the 1:1 iPad deployment slated for the spring and with the new facility. I had a teacher last week tell me she hated the idea of me putting old books on the new shelves. I am downright terrified to report that one of the PCs has a virus, because that will mean it might be taken away, never to return, and then we'll be down to two. These are issues about resources, but they are very real. So to hear from boots-on-the-ground librarians who had great out-of-the-box ideas was really inspiring, and it's given me the strength I needed to work towards more and better support for our students. It's the students who only have access to three PCs instead of the state's1:75 guideline, which would give us at least twelve. It's the kids who suffer when I don't dip into my own pocket for the latest Rick Riordan (which I did last year, when I was feeling luckier and more generous). It's the kids who need to learn better information skills even when the assignments are a Google-able.
I need to have some hard conversations. It's not something that comes naturally to me. But I've left the intellectual cave of my doctoral dissertation and am ready to get back in the swing of things, especially considering how wonderful things CAN be.