Recently I’ve heard a lot from my local school librarians about how under-appreciated they are. As public services employees, particularly as librarians, we all feel a little under-the-radar sometimes, a little overlooked and unaccounted for. However, school librarians seem to be the most unappreciated group of librarians.
From being made to take on responsibilities and tasks that they aren’t legally qualified for, to being asked to fetch coffee and make copies for the administration, school librarians that I’ve encountered this year have been dealing with a lot of misunderstanding and inappropriate work situations. What can we do to support them?
As public librarians, simply being there for your school librarian is important. I know, I know, sometimes it’s practically impossible for us to get into schools. But you know when a school librarian needs you the most? When he or she is new in their position. Sometimes you have to wait for it, and jump up and down and yell and wave your arms when the opportunity arises. Get in there and talk to and be supportive of your school librarian, and discover ways you can work together. That’s the first step.
The second step is something encouraged to me by YA author Carrie Mesrobian – find out about your school library. The one you went to as a kid. The library in your elementary and high schools – do they still have librarians? How much are they supported? Make it clear to your past schools that you care about the situation in the school libraries, and you want to know what’s going on. That’s a great second step.
The next thing you can do is support your school libraries nationally. Stay up to date on what ALA and YALSA are doing to advocate. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or the petition – sometimes jumping on the bandwagon makes the difference. Staying informed about what’s going on is also super important.
Also inform others about the bandwagon, particularly your library’s administration or public relations staff. I know my PR staff are part-time employees who do a whole lot of work for my library system, and they can’t possibly stay up to date with everything that’s going on in advocacy-land, so I forward news stories and press releases to them. If you form a good relationship with your PR staff, they won’t be offended by you sharing this information, okay? We’re all fighting for libraries together!
So what do YOU do to support your school libraries and librarians? Please share in the comments!
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