Whether we knew it at the start or figured it out on the job, each of us has chosen a profession where one-size-fits-all just never applies. And that is something to celebrate.
We may serve younger students, older students, diverse communities, homogenous communities. We teach children not only to read, but to read critically. We use fiction and nonfiction to teach children about the world outside their community, environmental awareness, cultural awareness, and a sense of place. We use banned books to teach about freedom to read and by extension how a democracy works. We are experts in individualized instruction. In some schools we serve as caretaker in the intellectual and social heart of the school, in others we morph into the go-to tech person with or without the technology integration specialist title. We take on open schedules, fixed schedules, even dedicated course teaching loads. Ample funding, shoestring funding, with support staff, without support staff--we have seen and survived it all.
What amazes me more, though, is all we have in common. While our passion for school librarianship manifests itself in individual ways, a shared purpose shines though. Our passion for quality library service to children brings MSLA members together despite perceived barriers of age, sexual orientation, race, political affiliation, religion, gender identity, and economics. I love that about MSLA.
It is in our collective nature to support free speech, confront censorship, identify inequity, advocate for funding needed to provide excellent library service, and defend the right of every child to a high standard of education. We do not surrender lightly.
In times like these, society as a whole reexamines itself and individuals revisit their most basic beliefs. We may be called upon to take a public stance, wade in the social media river, or answer a reporter’s questions. How do we best navigate these waters in challenging times? Because I have no business speaking as an authority on the matter, I turn to the American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/media.
ALA seems to offer some solid advice. The best time for us to read it over may in fact be before we need it.
During challenging times, restating what seems obvious in normal times may be worthwhile: MSLA welcomes members regardless of economics, race, religion, age, gender expression, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. We welcome everyone who believes every child in Massachusetts deserves access to excellent school library service.
Do you think our professional organization adequately promotes an atmosphere of inclusion? I would love to hear your thoughts.