May 2014, Volume 6, Issue 4
Check Your Calendars!!
Choose Privacy Week
National Library Legislative Day
National Teacher Day
Children's Book Week
ALA Annual Conference
June 26-July 1, 2014
ALCTS Annual Conference
June 26–July 1, 2014
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Summer reading sizzles with online resources
Shedding the 'bun and shush' image
by Daria Bossman, State Librarian
This time of year my little mutt begins to shed her enormous red winter coat. Every spring we do the same thing— comb her incessantly for about six straight weeks. At the end of this time period she is about half the size she appeared to be during the winter months prior. Shedding is a pain, but sometimes I wish we librarians could "shed" our old 1950's image in much the same way. Though we have made great strides in recent years, unfortunately the "bun and shush" image still exists. Perhaps it exists because we still have a few among our ranks who aren't practicing 21st century librarianship!
April was School Library month and April 13 through April 18 was National Library Week. During that time (April 10, 2014) a great article popped up on my computer. It was entitled, "5 Things That People Don't Realize their Librarians Do," by Rebecca Tischler, Head Editor of the INALJ Tennessee. If you have a moment, read it. She asserts, correctly I believe, that librarians are much more than card stampers and book shelvers. And as she so articulately points out, we are 1) teachers, 2) tech savvy technologists, 3) advertisers/promoters, 4) event and program planners and my favorite— 5) researchers.
However, I got to thinking. I have five more things that people don't realize their librarians do on a weekly, if not daily, basis! Perhaps you can think of others attributes and talents these super multitaskers can handle.
- We are statisticians. Working with data to "tell our stories" is a weekly if not daily occurrence. Have you noticed?—Librarians count everything! I learned the power of this skill early in my career. My first professional job was as a reference/acquisitions librarian at a local Catholic college which was known for their winning basketball teams. The campus totally supported their team. Attendance to home games was always a packed crowd in their new arena. My first spring, long before email or the Internet, we published in our monthly campus newsletter that more students came into the library the previous year than attended the college's home basketball games… It was true. The numbers shocked me as well. My, what a "game-changer" that revelation was! We had a totally gutted and remodeled new library within two and a half years! It was a living demonstration of the power of perception and words; the power of telling our story with numbers.
- We are good accountants and finance managers— we just are! We have to be. Librarians can get 'blood out of a turnip' for sure. Even in a small library, there is considerable administrative work that must be done and much of that involves dollars and cents.
- We are good listeners and a friendly shoulder to lean on. You'd be surprised how many students confide in their school librarian or patrons (even strangers!) in their local public librarian. It is a sacred trust.
- We are good speakers… or at least articulate enough to write a good advocacy speech for another to give. We need our board members to be effective communicators as well, but sometimes we are left alone with the task of communicating the library's value to the community.
- Lastly, we are tirelessly passionate about everyone's right to information; the right to read is integral to our "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." However, almost daily we are painfully aware of the half of our society that does not have expendable money for the luxury of personal computers, an iPhone or e-books or even print materials. We are reminded each and every day if libraries went away, especially school and public libraries, our democracy as we know it would disintegrate very quickly. For most kids, their first exposure to the concept of a "library" will be their school library. Apart from programming or staff, which are essential, a modern, clean, well-resourced 21st century library makes an important statement just being there— "Dear student: you can do anything, be anybody, and here are the resources to teach yourself what you want to learn." It is where a desire for lifelong learning is birthed in their minds and within their hearts.
As we celebrate libraries, we can all be very grateful that we live in a country that truly "invented" the concept and model of public libraries. For that matter, school libraries were originally "American" as well. Sharing resources and materials and assisting one another— imagine that novel, cost efficient idea! Today this model is being emulated all over the world where people are hungry to live, study and work in a democracy.
Local library board, I hope you told your local librarians and library staff you appreciate them! Let them know you understand they do so much more than shelve a book or stamp a card! Maybe next year you could host a reception in their honor. Invite the mayor and city council. Don't forget to invite the school or area college librarians and recognize them as well! Support your 21st century school, public and local colleges' libraries. You main job is to be an advocate for them and for the services they provide. Get informed and spread the great news! Libraries are changing and evolving to meet the 21st century needs of our communities and our students. It is an exciting time. Today, technology and digital online access make rural libraries and small school libraries, "giant" reservoirs of resources for their users.
I hope you have a wonderful spring!
Check out our terrific resources for librarians and boards on at library.sd.gov including some fun PSAs!
21st Century, acquisitions, advocacy, board, librarian, National Library Week, school libraries, staff, technology,