When your job is on the line

Doug Johnson recently wrote the post, “When your job is on the line…”  In his posting, he pointed out that 41 of 50 states are facing budget deficits.  He wondered what people were doing to ensure their library jobs.  In California, in case you haven’t read, we have some major budget issues as well.

Recently, the teacher-librarians in our district sat down to discuss how we can advocate for the importance of our positions.  Although the Colorado study and related studies have shown the importance of school libraries and their direct impact on student achievement, these studies have limited impact in the face of budget cuts.  In this meeting, I wondered out loud if credentialed teacher-library positions will disappear in the future based on the trends we are seeing in California?  Our assembled group agreed that the key is building relationships with the people you influence:  the administrators, the teachers, and the parents at your school (yes, we serve students, but when it comes down to making budget decisions, their voice is not often considered).  We came up with this list of ideas to build these relationships…

  • Email an invitation to the administrator to visit when the LMC is being used to its optimum (e.g. when they come by unannounced, it always seems like it is when there are no students in the library)
  • Invite the administrator to do something as part of a library related collaborative lesson (even as simple as doing a holiday reading to a group of first graders)
  • Set a standing (at least monthly) meeting with your administrator
  • Be part of the school’s academic senate
  • High School Teacher-Librarians are department heads
  • Build personal relationships with each administrator.
  • Develop informal groups of teachers to promote independent reading – set up the meeting yourself and invite others
  • Invite yourself to meet with the administrative team – occasionally. Wanted to show the administrators the stuff before showing the teachers. 15 minutes to share the latest Web 2.0 tool (e.g. Google docs).
  • Go where teachers and administrators are all gathered to share information.
  • Send occasional, maybe weekly, emails out to staff of new online resources or an FYI about some new information.
  • With every lesson plan, share one thing they can do on their own outside the library
  • Individual email to a specific teacher regarding something they could use (e.g. debate or forensics)
  • Attend parent club meetings
  • Create bookmarks to share with students and staff about the library
  • Set up a weekly “web site Wednesday” or “Tech Thursday” during lunch for any teachers who want to attend and share
  • Reinforce how people can access this information on their own
  • Will teach a lesson/presentation to the SART committee
  • Printed flyer for the library
  • Put article in every school newspaper
  • Write an article for your town newspaper – whether in the opinion section or an article about using information from the Internet wisely
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4 Responses to “When your job is on the line”


  1. 2 Tom Nixon December 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Wonderful ideals, Rob. As it happens, we are having some of the same discussions (although not formulated quite so well). You can be assured that I will be printing out a copy of this for our TLs.

  2. 3 Sara Kelly Johns December 9, 2008 at 6:54 am

    This is a great list…do you mind if it is added to the new AASL Crisis and Health and Wellness toolkits? They are already on the AASL website under the Professional Tools button but are not static. Good materials will be added as identified and this very practical list should be there! Thanks…

  3. 4 robdarrow December 9, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Always welcome to borrow and share what is written here with others…these were collected from Teacher-Librarians in Clovis Unified…thanks for asking.


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