Recently, a friend said to me that if I got bored while waiting at an event, I could just read a book. Excuse me? Did I miss something here? Is that the perception of librarians she and so many people hold? Likewise, while at the MEMO conference in early October (MEMO=Minnesota Educational Media Organization professional org for MN library media specialists and technology people) a vendor just flat out asked me, “Why would a young lady like you become a librarian?”
A recent article from Leslie Berger (President of ALA) discusses the ways we (us library folk) can “transform the way people perceive libraries and librarians.”
Exactly. So hold the phone, folks, because if you think all I do during a day at my job is sit and checkout books you’ve got another thing coming. Sure, a love of books is a big part of it. But it’s not just books. Maybe you missed it, but libraries support intellectual freedom and cringe at the thought of censorship. It’s a love of information and a passion to make it available to each and every person the library serves. It doesn’t matter the library (public, school or academic, you pick), it serves the greater good of the community.
An average day at my library consists of helping students with reader’s advisory (”Mrs. B., I gotta get a book-help!“), teaching! Gasp! Yes, I teach just like every other teacher. I get really excited sharing how to search various search engines, what’s new on the web and helping students find just the right answers for their homework. Did I mention that I set up AV needs at my school, troubleshoot problems with them (”Mrs. B., the LCD projector in our room doesn’t work.”) and help (with the fabulous assistance of 2 techs) technology needs (”Mrs. B, why won’t this load? How do I find…?). Oh, and when there’s time I order materials for my library. I go through student requests, figure out what I need to go shopping for (yes, you can be the Baudelaire children were on my list about two weeks ago), what can be ordered online for later, I figure out what curriculum is changing–did something change grades? If yes, we need lower or higher level materials, what’s new? what’s been dropped?, what projects are teachers are doing and how I can help them by showing them what we’ve already got in the library or what I can order for the next time if the project is a success? I go through that every day! Not to mention, about a million other little odds and ends that don’t typify the stereotype of a librarian.
To go back to Leslie Burger’s article–”we can transform the way people perceive libraries and librarians.” A friend I hadn’t seen in about five years said to me this weekend, “You said you were a what? Media …?” I immediately jumped in and said “librarian or library media specialist” and went on to explain what I did within the middle school where I work. I’d like to hope that I was passionate enough in my explanation that his ideas about the typical librarian were challenged.
Call me a librarian, library media specialist, media specialist, media teacher, teacher-librarian, library lady, book lady, library teacher, Ms. B, Mrs. B. Ms. Braun, Mrs. Braun–but please!–don’t call me “Hey You.” (A favorite of my students which receives the “You know my name” look and one of which I refuse to respond to.)