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Ann PerhamIndicators of Health [and Hope]
by Ann Perham

Without question, this is a tough time to be a school librarian. What are our members concerned about? Take a look at the MSLA listserv discussion threads for indicators: budget cuts, loss of jobs. But…we are NOT sitting back, waiting for the budget axe to fall. We are taking action with vibrant programs and promotions of our school libraries.

The summation of the Justification for a Professional Librarian question posed to the member discussion offers an informal list of arguments. Leigh Barnes offers an impressive graphic of the many facets of a school librarian's responsibilities. Putting the “perceived” and “actual” illustrations side-by-side is SO graphic! These are very HEALTHY responses to misconceptions about our profession.

Reading in Leslie Schoenherr’s Working Smarter column, there are two more indicators of how our members have learned to promote their work. Sharon Hamer urges her collaborating teachers to Spread the Word and mention their work to the administrators, especially if there is a situation of being a non-professional. Promote Your Work to Administration is Leslie’s advice; Leslie routinely uses midyear and year end reports to impress her administration with the work of the library program.

Within the Forum are many indicators of the HEALTH and vibrancy of our programs, our profession, and our organization.

A new column making its debut in this issue is Off the Shelf: Listserv Hot Topics , edited by Audrey Borus. Our members are keeping abreast of the exciting (mind-boggling) developments in library technology: eBooks, eReaders, tablets, Kindles, iPads, laptops, iPod touches. Our members are asking, probing, weighing….all very healthy indicators of our profession.

A decade ago, holding a meeting using Skype would have seemed to be a chapter out of Brave New World. Sharon Hamer and Chris Steinhauser are leading by example, setting the bar for their Northeast Region.

The incredible lineup of speakers for our March 2012 conference is a showcase of the biggest forces in school librarianship. The MSLA Conference Committee has conjured a “hit parade” for our members’ professional development. In the rankings of healthy indicators, this is BIG!

MSLA has made its mark on the national scene, evidenced by the members’ outstanding contributions at the AASL Conference in October. Presentations by MSLA members were numerous, from the Exploratorium to workshops and vendor hall demonstrations. I had the honor of presenting the MSLA Bookmark Contest in the Exploratorium. Attendees were impressed with our unique combination of student work, library promotion, and legislation advocacy. Truly, our bookmark contest is a prescription for boosting “PR” for school libraries.

The memory of Gerri Fegan singing “L4L” at the AASL closing celebration, backed up by “The Dispositions” (including our own Kathy Lowe) is an all-time favorite. I remember the announcement (in 2005?) that AASL would launch a redesign standards to replace “Information Power” and recall the hope that it would be a shot in the arm for school libraries. Learning4Life has met the expectation and exceeded hopes. Gerri’s animated delivery of her poem in song format was amazing!

We are not kidding ourselves; school libraries have been squeezed, cut and morphed as a result of the economic downturn. Looking at the Massachusetts school librarians’ aggressive advocacy as well as their constant work to stay up with current trends, my diagnosis is that we have reasons to HOPE.

I know that you will enjoy this issue of the MSLA Forum.


Last Updated ( Friday, 18 November 2011 )

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