This past weekend at the BCTLA conference in Burnaby I was officially honored and presented with the award. As always, I am incredibly in awe of my fellow teacher librarians and their passion, intelligence, and ingenuity around teacher librarianship. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the Val Hamilton lifetime Achievement recipients and I was inspired by her enthusiasm, insight, and down to earth approach to library programs.
Receiving this award has been a tremendous honour.
My acceptance speech:
Thank you for this incredible honour.
Before I became a teacher librarian, I job shadowed the legendary Sharon Bede who at the time was at Mount Boucherie. I thought I was going to sit down and talk with her about teacher librarianship and maybe chat a bit about books. Imagine my shock when I walked into her library and saw her at the circulation desk, a desk in absolute disarray with seemingly random piles of books, open and dog eared magazines, and bits and pieces of paper. And here I thought teacher librarians were organized! There was no sitting and talking with Sharon as she was constantly moving – grabbing random books, checking in with students, and monitoring her computer. And talking! Well, I don't think she was able to string more than two sentences together before she was interrupted by a student, a teacher, or the library assistant. Don't even get me started about how she and the library assistant spoke, as I wondered if they had their own language as random sentence fragments were clearly understood. I left that job shadow and headed back to my school where I confided to my teacher librarian that I didn't think I could be a tl. She assured me that I'd be an excellent teacher librarian. But, I explained to her, I still didn't really understand what was teacher librarians do.
That was well over a decade ago and now the CNB library is my second home. It looks like a bomb went off on my circulation desk and my library assistant knows not to throw out a single piece of paper no matter what illegible scribble might be on it and she understands when to swoop in, distract, or pick up pieces. And as for stringing more than two sentences together? That never happens in my library either. But you know what has stayed with me the most from my job shadowing experience? That after being with Sharon for half a day, I had no idea what it was that she was doing. It was this that has shaped my advocacy – I cannot advocate for a fulltime TL and a fully funded library program if teachers, administrators, students, and parents are unclear as to what it is that I, as a teacher librarian does.With this school year ahead of us, I urge each one of you to be quietly aggressive and educate as many as possible as to what it is a teacher librarian does. Take photos of what goes on in a day, tweet out, tag your administrator –or trustee or superintendent, do monthly reports and meet and talk with admin about them, tell admin what your year goals are and what your vision of the library program is. Show them that the library is the hub of the building and the teacher librarian is the heart. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Get teachers into the library space and using resources – print, digital and you. And if they won't leave their classrooms then slide into theirs. Use the new curriculum as way to establish new connections. Persevere and promote so that when someone asks your administration what it is that a teacher librarian does they'll actually know and their answer will start with: "Everything"