Sunday, August 17, 2014

From Rough Waters to Smooth Sailing

I keep putting off writing about the content of my keynote at the Alabama School Library Association Conference this summer. The timing just has not felt right. Now that the beginning of the school year is near for so many, I know that it is the right time to talk about the different vessels of librarianship, and where the focus needs to be for many of us as we move into the new school year.

My inspiration for the keynote started with an episode of Gilmore Girls. The grandmother in the episode calls her daughter, Lorelai, a kayak. She is a kayak because of her independence and ability to be successful on her own. Whereas the grandmother sees herself as a canoe. She and Lorelai's father have been split up for awhile, and this has made her feel like she has been rowing in circles because she ultimately belongs to a two man canoe team. This really made me think about myself personally and whether or not I was a kayak. Then it led me to question whether or not I was a kayak professionally. I definitely started my career as a kayak.

As the kayak, I was ok on my own. I often worked in solitude. Lessons were taught in isolation. Collaboration with teachers was nonexistent. I was sailing along, but it just wasn't what I envisioned. So what vessel of librarianship did I want to be? What vessel should I strive to be?

Many of us may feel like the speedboat. You know how it is as a librarian. You hardly have time to eat lunch some days. Between troubleshooting technology, teaching, meetings and so on, every day seems like a blur. We wear a lot of different hats, and sometimes we don't know if we are coming or going.

The tugboat can be a tiring role. The tugboat is pushing and pulling at every turn. As the tugboat you are ready to move forward and make changes, but you are always fighting the resistance. The tugboat has to be cautious about not being too pushy.

The list of possible vessels of librarianship is endless. In fact, there are several others I mentioned in my keynote. I shared tactics for making sure the drawbridge stays open and allows the vessels to pass through (more on that in another post), but it all boils down to one thing. As you start this school year, you need to be the lifeboat for your students, your teachers, and your school community. The lifeboat combines all of the best elements of librarianship. As the lifeboat we are able to come to the rescue and provide just in time service for our stakeholders.

I wish you smooth sailing as you start this school year. I have no doubt that there will be days that other vessels will win out, just remember to reflect on your practice and remind yourself that you have the power to be the lifeboat. Bon Voyage!