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Shhh! It’s a Library

Yesterday was interesting. I read a report during an admin meeting stating "our library wasn’t quiet enough." Then it immediately brought me back to the Summit and some lunch conversations I had with some of the librarians in attendance. I prefaced my dialogue so it was clear that while "I AM NOT A LIBRARIAN" I am a technologist and I do run my Libra/Tech center in a vastly different way than some of the participants. Is it the wrong way though? Anyway, I am getting on a rant. I am sure we will address the issue of whether a library should be a "quiet commons" or a "natural noise commons" sometime in the future. Maybe it will come up again at the NECC conference coming in June. I will be blogging from there too.

Our first comment to the VSB raised another issue regarding libraries in schools and that was "to raise the perception of the Library Media Specialist (LMS)as central to the teaching mission of the school."
Here are a few tasks ALA points out regarding the role of the LMS…excerpted from Chapter 1, "The Vision," of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning.

As teacher, the library media specialist collaborates with students and other members of the learning community to analyze learning and information needs…
As instructional partner, the library media specialist joins with teachers and others to identify links across student information needs, curricular content, learning outcomes…
As information specialist, the library media specialist provides leadership and expertise in acquiring and evaluating information in all formats…
As program administrator, the library media specialist works collaboratively with members of the learning community to define the policies of the library media program…

How does one librarian in a school (usually) take on all of these tasks; plus handle the day to day operations? Is it realistic? Has anyone had full success with this at the district or school level? Please share your experiences.

–Amy Bowllan


  1. Alice Yucht says:

    Yes, Amy —
    Many of us School Librarians manage quite successfully to handle the four roles identified by AASL (a division of ALA) on both the school and district levels EVERY DAY — and often without any clerical help, either.
    It’s all part of our job: as certified professionals, these responsibilities are not isolated tasks, they are integral aspects of what we do.
    To question whether anyone can do all this successfully is to question the very foundations of school librarianship.

  2. Alice,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment and you’re right, many librarians do handle ALL of their jobs quite successfully; oftentimes, without batting an eye. But with this surge of technology being an “in addition” piece to the librarians role, it seems like an awesome (sometimes daunting)task. My question certainly doesn’t negate the librarianship and I apologize if that was implied. But coming away from the Summit I found many participants saying “we want to continue to be successful in our fields, but we do have to collaborate and mesh with the tech piece.” It’s not always just a “given” that these tasks are integral…unfortunately.
    BTW…I’m still trying to find that button you were wore at the Summit :) and I also enjoy reading your blog.


  3. TO: Research AND Reading in school libraries,

    We are in this constant state of “bells and whistles” when it comes to technology. And the Summit proved that there has to be seamless thread that keeps books in the spirit and mind of the learners. If the content is not understood “than there is no program, no powerpoint, no iMac…nothing.” There’s a great article in this months’ SLJ “Birds of a Feather?” by Sharon Joiner. She seems to have developed the bridge between the two; as you’ve indicated you’ve been able to do. I request your input/expertise to the blog, as to how you have accomplished your mission at your school. It would certainly benefit readers. I also appreciate your comment and feedback,


  4. Hi Nancy,

    Professor Loertshcer will be answering some questions on the blog in the upcoming days. Is there anything specific you feel needs to be addressed regarding funding and what school districts need to accomplish? I am sure he will be a “wealth of information” for us.
    Let me know,


  5. Anne,

    Do your teachers struggle with integration of technology? I ask that because I’ve asked some “key questions” to Professor David Loertscher and he may be of some help in this area. Although, you point out the many roles that are so ever relied upon in a school setting. Where should we begin?


  6. Robert Eiffert says:

    Regarding:” I am a technologist and I do run my Libra/Tech center in a vastly different way than some of the participants.”

    Could you explain how and why? Maybe compare your program to the InfoPower Vision quoted above.

  7. Keith,
    The Head of my school is very supportive and ALWAYS requires staffers to visit other schools, to learn what others are doing. Let me know and I would love to visit.


  8. Hi Doug,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. I also want to apologize if my earlier post read as “Technology Person” with issues against librarians…when I wrote “I AM NOT A LIBRARIAN.” I TRULY admire librarians and respect their dedication to the 21st century students.
    So if it came off negatively, my sincerest apologies. It was not my intention.
    I really just wanted readers to know that up front.
    On another note, if you don’t mind, I would like to post excerpts from your article
    Librarians are from Venus; Technologists are from Mars to the blog. But only with your permission of course. Thanks again for your support.

    -Amy Bowllan

  9. Debbie Stafford says:


    In my world a technologist is usually seen as the person who comes in and fixes the workstation, not as a teacher who integrated technology into the curriculum. Maybe cutting hairs over terminology, but when I tell people that I am a librarian, everyone understands what I do (at least I hope so). And my mission indeed is all four. But I maintain that it always has been. Take technology out, and those same four remain will still be our mission.

    The main point is that people should see the job as integrated. If we see technology as something separate from “library” or “teaching” then it will never be truly integrated.

  10. Jill Brown says:

    Coursework in School Librarianship teach us about all our different roles and we discuss management styles that will allow us to accomplish them. I think that is why it is difficult for non-library people to take over, or even understand, this position. It is much more than “checking out the books”.

  11. Anne-Marie Gordon says:

    It is certainly “realistic” to expect librarians to address all four of those tasks. It’s what we do. You’ve actually provided a very nice job description for school librarians!