Spend an evening participating in #TLChat, or read the latest issue of Knowledge Quest, and it is easy to see how much has changed in our profession since many of us became school librarians. While the school library I spent time in as a K-12 student fostered my love for reading, and strengthened my research skills – goals of school library programs today – it did not have a single computer until well into the 90s. Accessing the internet did not happen for me until several years into my college studies. It would have never occurred to me to ask the school librarian to help me develop a video game for a technology competition, or help me put together my senior capstone portfolio. Now, those requests are received by school librarians on a daily basis.
I bring up this shift in the profession because it is what cemented my decision to become a school librarian. As a classroom teacher, I originally approached my school librarian to help me tackle literacy issues. I was in the habit of checking out as many, if not more, of the library books as my students, exchanging recommendations and favorites. I perceived her role as limited to helping students grow in reading for pleasure and reading for purpose.
One day, I discovered a website that I wanted to use with my students. Since the library was the only space that had a bank of computers, I approached her about bringing my students to the library. She surprised me with ideas for a creative and engaging lesson – much more than I had envisioned on my own! Over that year we worked together again and again to the benefit of my students and my own teaching. Those collaborations led to lunches and conversations on what it meant to be a school librarian. She was at the end of her career and she spoke eloquently about the need for new blood in the profession. She encouraged me to consider becoming a school librarian, citing my creativity and background as a music educator as advantages.
Upon entering the library science program, I noticed how much the profession was changing. This change was evident in the coursework, in conversations with new colleagues, and in my first time attending the state library conference. I knew that in this profession, I would never stop learning. In my first year as a school librarian, my principal asked me to take over the school yearbook and the school website. Years later, these new opportunities lead me to pursue a doctorate in Instructional Technology. Lucy from 1995 could have never imagined what a natural extension of school librarianship Instructional Technology turned out to be!
Today, I am privileged to be a school library educator, preparing future school library media specialists and instructional technologists to collaborate with classroom teachers – introducing them, as my mentor did years ago, to rich and engaging technology-enabled learning opportunities! I cannot wait to see where the profession takes me next!