Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Librarian as Change Agent

I love, love, love my job.
I have a BLAST every day at work.
I love kids & I love books & I love technology.
I love knowing that I make a positive difference in people's lives.
I love creating a safe haven for my kids.
I love assisting teachers with lessons.

With all that said it kind of blows my mind that not everyone realizes how awesome & important libraries and librarians are in today's world.  We still have SO many folks in positions of power who do not yet see the light when it comes to librarians being powerful positive change agents and libraries as absolute necessities. I am beyond blessed to have extremely supportive administrators, but sadly, I realize not everyone has that situation.

It pains me even more to say that many administrators and other stakeholders feel this way because they have not seen what a positive difference an on-fire-for-learning-in-this-century librarian can make.  If your district's power players do not see YOU as a fellow power player than it is up to YOU to change that.  Gandhi's powerful quote--"Be the change you wish to see in this world" applies completely here.  Be the change and don't keep it a secret.  Instead, shout it from the proverbial rooftops, friends.

  *** note here to say I also realize there are many amazing librarians doing amazing things who are trying SO hard to be this change and are finding it extremely difficult to do so with little to no support.  Please know this is NOT to tear you down, but to attempt to help build you up. Together we are stronger!***

I am good at what I do and work to be better all the time, but I am by no means a rock star in the larger librarian world.  I admire the rock stars and learn everything I can from them.  What I am, however, is a hard working librarian, passionate about my job, and determined to make the world brighter in my neck of the woods each and every day.
THIS is what I DO have control over (and so do YOU!)

Here are some bits of wisdom I've picked up along the ride (from numerous bloggers, speakers, TLA sessions, Twitter chats, books I've read, etc.) that I hope will be of benefit to you on your journey, as well. This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course, but rather some tidbits to jump start you if you feel you need some jump starting!

1. Be positive.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr. had it right when he wrote #188 in Life's Little Instruction Book. Now, I'm not saying you can't be a realist, but it is always better to come at a problem offering possible solutions rather than just complaints.  I'm also not suggesting you must be over the top---just remember you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Be someone that folks want to be around. Remind yourself that we GET to do the best job in the universe---aren't we lucky?!

2.  Know your job. Be good at what you do. Be stellar.  With so many people mistakenly believing they don't need libraries now that they have Google and smartphones we cannot afford to have mediocre librarians. With the power of Twitter to build an empowering PLN all free and from the comfort of your own home, not to mention the amazing webinars available and great info that can be found in various blogs & books---well, there is something that fits everyone's style and budget to be found. You simply cannot remain solely the quiet keeper of the books and expect to remain relevant.

3. Stretch yourself. Create a plan and move forward.  What would best fit the needs of your patrons? Makerspace? Book clubs? Comic con? How can YOU with your vast librarian knowledge best fill the gaps that exist at the school?  How can YOU work with your teachers to create powerful lessons? What are the ways you can help the school get to that next level of greatness? What is listed on the Campus Improvement Plan that you can help make a reality?  With stretching yourself, I feel compelled to add---you must learn to push past the fear of failure and the fear of making a fool out of yourself.  Sometimes that happens in the learning process. When it does---learn, laugh, and move forward after tweaking your plan.  

4. Inform your stakeholders.  This can the hardest part for a lot of folks.  You can be doing the best, most creative amazing things in the world but if no one knows about them....well, then no one knows. You aren't changing perceptions.  If it bothers you to "brag" on yourself--then don't, but by all means then BRAG on THE LIBRARY.  How can you get the word out to your stakeholders?  From posters to social media figure out how to ping ALL your stakeholders from students & teachers to parents to admin and school boards--and then DO IT.  
5. For Pete's sake, HAVE FUN!  We have the very best gig on the planet (well, I imagine rock star has its perks, too, but you get what I'm saying here, right?) Have a ball every day. If your work follows your passion then it doesn't feel so much like work.  Technology is fun! Books are awesome in all their forms! Life is GOOD, people! Enjoy the ride.

 "Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy."                     --Bill Clinton

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."                                                                       --Apple Inc. motto

and a few resources for your learning pleasure:


  1. There's no question - librarians are important! I love your list of tips and also your quotes. Positive and proactive is the way to go!

  2. I have always wanted to write a blog post, a poem, or an essay about our local library and the librarians there because they ground our society, especially in today's high-paced, high-tech world! I take my son to the library often and encourage him to interact with the librarians because I want him to grow up valuing your role in our society. Thank you for the motivating, inspiring post :-)

  3. I salute librarians every where - you guys are amazing!

  4. I salute librarians every where - you guys are amazing!

  5. This is a ROCK STAR post. You are absolutely right about the value of librarians. Unfortunately, in this day of "the test is everything," unless you're proctoring one, it's hard to make the powers that be aware of librarians' value. Keep beating and marching to your own drum. I'm off to check that previous dystopian novel post!

  6. Librarians are teachers best friends! They are so essential. I am so sad when I hear about financial cutbacks to libraries. Your post is great!

  7. You're right - be the change! Be enthusiastic! What a great post, not only to inspire TLs everywhere, but even people in other job capacities!

  8. I was looking for an image to go with a post about how much I love my work and I found the image at the top of this post.
    Then I laughed, because I'm also a librarian.