I attended the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Professional Development Institute in San Francisco recently. Lisa Guernsey, Karen Nemeth and I presented Links with libraries: The surprisingly diverse ways libraries are supporting developmentally appropriate early learning in partnerships with schools and programs At the beginning of our talk, Karen introduced us and asked our audience the following:
How many of you have ever heard a real, live librarian speak at this conference before?
NO HANDS were raised. None! Not one! These early childhood administrators and educators were clamoring to hear about what public libraries are doing around the continent, and some had not even thought of partnering with their local library. Some already had great partnerships in place, but almost all of them were looking for guidance in the area of new media use with young kids (that’s what we do now, after all).
Shame on us for not being there! Where else are we not? I challenge you all; submit a conference proposal for, or register to attend, a non-library conference in the next fiscal year. It doesn’t really matter which conference, as long as you’re talking about something you’re passionate about, you’re there representing libraryland and you make your message relevant to the group you’re speaking to. The higher the level, the better. State and national conferences are probably best, but if local is what you can manage, go for it! Walk the talk with me. Spread the word about what we do, because crazy as it may seem, not everybody really knows what librarians and libraries can offer. If they don’t know what we do, it’s our fault, not theirs. Seek out professional organizations that serve the same demographics that you do, and get involved.
The NAEYC institute was a real eye-opener for me. Not only did I get to shake hands with Ellen Galinksy and Chip Donohue (who did a great webinar recently for ALSC on Young Children and Media), I didn’t get that comfortable, preaching-to-the-choir feeling. I got a reality check; while my life may revolve around libraries, the rest of the world doesn’t. If other professions who serve children don’t know what our skill set is, what resources we have to offer, and what we can do to further their missions, we might as well not exist. If we truly want to have a significant voice in the new media and information landscape (because we don’t yet), we’ve got to show up and make our voices heard.
Future non-librarian conferences/events I’m going to attend:
- Dust or Magic
- Early Education and Technology for Children
- International Society for Technology in Education
- National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual
- National Association for the Education of Young Children Professional Development Institute
- National Association for Media Literacy Education
Where are you going to go?