Being Professionally Lonesome…Together

Interior view of Stockholm Public Library

I loved this article, because I see this issue across our system and in many other areas. A lot of libraries, especially schools and specials, have either one person working there, or one person and a couple of maybe-part-time people who can fill in there and also other places in the organization. So being alone is a real issue -and it’s a tough one!

One of our priorities at CMLE is providing a place where our members can connect with other library people – across the system, across the state, and across the profession. So please, when you feel alone at work – whether you are a solo librarian, or just the only one in your organization who does your thing, or who likes your library-focused area, know that CMLE is filled with members who are right there with you!! Subscribe to all our stuff (newsletter, podcast, online book groups, online discussion groups, and more!), and come to our events, to be sure you are connecting. Never hesitate to give us a call at HQ, or send us an email, or even to stop by to chat! We are your system, and are here to support libraries!

“Being a school librarian can sometimes feel lonely. To the outside ear, that may seem ridiculous. After all, we’re surrounded by our amazing students, collaborating teachers, school administrators, and perhaps also parent volunteers, district personnel, or community contacts. Does anyone other than our fellow school librarians, however, truly understand our below-the-iceberg, multi-faceted job? Our wonderful reality that is educator, reading advocate, social activist, and CEO of a small company. Does anyone understand THAT? Of course, at the end of a school year—when even my eyelashes are tired—there are times when I barely understand it.

We can go days, weeks, months without coming face-to-face with someone who does our job, which makes us unique—and somewhat isolated—in our schools. Sometimes, this can feel professionally lonesome. Social media can help fill that gap, but being surrounded by other school librarians can be a gift. Attending a national conference, however, is out-of-reach for many of us, as our school budgets do not include conference attendance.

This makes AASL’s support in sending new librarians to a national conference so meaningful. At the risk of sounding like a boring cliché, I never dreamt that I would be chosen to receive the Frances Henne Award and my excitement was only tempered by realizing there are multitudes of worthy new librarians doing amazing work with students in schools across the country. I feel a great and humbling responsibility to take advantage of every possible aspect of the opportunity to attend the AASL National Conference this November.

I look at the conference site periodically. Okaythat is a complete lie. I look at it semi-obsessively. I cannot wait to learn and connect with school librarian colleagues from across the nation. I realize that there will be more than librarians there. Am I starry-eyed at the thought of hearing Jason Reynolds and Daniel José Older speak? Yes. Yes! With my Ghost + Sierra-loving heart, yes. But, the real stars? Who we ultimately work for? Our students. I’m most excited about leveraging this experience and the accompanying resources, tools, and ideas into an improved practice for and with my students.

When I look at the preliminary program, I’m particularly enthusiastic about the concurrent sessions that are framed in issues of equity and inclusivity, such as:

  • From De-Silencing to Empowering Discussions about Race and Culture with Diverse Books from Nick Glass and Heather Jankowski;
  • Addressing White Privilege and Unconscious Bias in the Classroom from Jody Gray and Gwendolyn Prellwitz;
  • Connecting to the Curriculum through Native American Literature with a Focus on the American Indian Youth Literature Award from Deborah Parrott and Renee Lyons; and,
  • Transforming Your Existing Lessons with a Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy Lens from Casey Rawson, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, and Kimberly Hirsh.

Thank you, AASL, for the Frances Henne Award. As a new librarian, I’m continually looking for ways to improve my library practice. I cannot wait to attend the AASL National Conference this fall to learn with school librarian colleagues as we build inclusive library programs that are culturally relevant, reflective, and student-centered.

For those days, we can be professionally lonesome, together.”