Of Leadership, Advocacy, & Professional Responsibility

Candidates in school librarian preparation programs are actively engaged in leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and professional networking. Candidates participate in and lead ongoing professional learning. Candidates advocate for effective school libraries to benefit all learners. Candidates conduct themselves according to the ethical principles of the library and information profession.

American Association of School Librarians. (2019). ALA/AASL/CAEP school librarian preparation standards. ALA.

What we want to change we curse and then 

pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can

 with eyes and hands and tongue. If you 

can't bless it, get ready to make it new.

--Marge Piercy

These closing lines of Marge Piercy's poem, "The Art of Blessing the Day," beautifully encapsulate the charge that human beings in general and school librarians in particular are given.  That which we look upon as wrong or unjust, we must for all intents and purposes "curse"--a word which meant in its original sense to excommunicate, cast out, or take an oath against--knowing that we must subsequently pick up our tools and use our talents to make change occur.  We bless--that is, we give thanks for and praise--all that we can, and all that is worthy; yet, as the poem states, if we cannot, for any reason, we use whatever powers and gifts we possess to be catalysts of transformation and renewal.

Librarians are committed to promoting lifelong learning in order to create a community of well-informed individuals. Librarians are catalysts to enlightenment for their communities. 


I teach because I learn, and I learn because I teach.  As a human being imbued with insatiable curiosity, I am naturally a proponent of lifelong learning; my education will never be “done.”  On a related note:  the only thing that delights and motivates me as much as seeking and gaining knowledge is sharing knowledge.

My proudest professional development moment, the product from which is featured herein, was the alphabetic presentation I initially created for a SLIB class and revised for the Fall 2021 VAASL conference.  In this--entitled An Alphabetic Odyssey Through a New Librarian's First Three Years, & What She Learned There--I reflect upon the challenges and little victories that I experienced at the beginning of my librarianship career and share some of the lessons I learned along the way.

Education is the mother of leadership. 


Educators are mothers not only to their biological children, but to their students as well, giving birth to heirs of knowledge, and to leaders. Teachers themselves--and especially school librarians--are often leaders.  If all the world of a school is a stage, then the school's librarian is definitely playing a leading role in the work being performed. Sometimes we have a script; at other times, we find that we need to improvise.

Whatever the case, often audience members (and even some of our fellow thespians) are unaware of just how important our role is, and we need to remind them to check their programs (or really, check out our programs).  My presentation--The Librarian in Her Time Plays Many Parts--explains exactly how I "role with it."

Library work cultivates all of the most important ingredients of a successful life:  good health, honesty, love of humanity, intellectual curiosity, and a sense of fun, with the additional mingling of the celestial and diabolic which prevents a human atom from taking himself seriously. 


Althea Warren's vision of librarianship--or, to use a perhaps more accurate term, "library life"-- is at once candid, humorous, and accurate.  All of the qualities and things--the "ingredients"--that she mentions are necessary, none of them less than any of the others; and while we, with angels and devils upon our shoulders along with the world itself, do not take ourselves seriously, we most certainly do take our work seriously, knowing how important it is.

Here, Hidden Treasure, a infographic combination of the two (the light-hearted and the weighty) in which I display just how helpful and wonderful an embedded librarian and the library "arrr."

When the going gets tough, 

the tough get a librarian.


As Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore once sagely observed:  "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."  I would add administrators into the friends group.  A librarian (especially a new one)  must be brave--even tough--to speak up about important topics, whether they relate to schedule improvements and time management, as described in The Only Thing, or even more pressing issues like censorship.  This is precisely what makes librarians such wonderful allies and advocates.

The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries. 


How many books are there out there?  

Billions and billions!

Being a school librarian is always an adventure, and advocating for the library can be the most dangerous yet undeniably thrilling part.  In Library Adventure, I take my cue from Mr. Spielberg and show, in somewhat cinematic fashion, just how awesome the feats accomplished by librarians can be, and how much derring-do and smarts we really have.  

Indiana Jones would be proud.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.


Author Neil Gaiman is a staunch and vocal ally of libraries, and eloquently and fervently supports libraries, as he states he believes everyone has an obligation to do.  As a child, his life was directly impacted by the presence of libraries, since he spent summers in them while his parents were at work; and as a writer, he is directly impacted by issues around intellectual freedom.

Our children--my students--are impacted too, just as much, which is why I created Rights of the Reader.