Over this past weekend, the Progressive Education Network (PEN) held their biannual conference in Brooklyn New York. Our school was fortunate enough to be able to attend en masse when our Director decided to close school on Friday and send everyone.
It was my first non-library conference, and I have to say that it clarified a few things for me. One of the main take aways is that we need to build bridges and trumpet our skills further and more widely.
A highlight of the conference for me (for obvious reasons) was the “Authors as Activists and the Importance of Diverse Book” panel featuring Jacqueline Woodson, Andrea Davis Pinkney and James Lecesne. All of the authors had so much to say (see my twitter feed and the hashtag #NYPEN2015 ) but what struck me the most were many of the questions that the educators in the room were asking. They were questions that wouldn’t necessarily be asked if the teachers had strong librarians in their schools, or strong relationships with librarians. A fellow librarian and I kept looking to one another in surprise when questions like, “How can I find good books highlighting diversity” were directed to the authors.
A small group of librarians met during lunch to talk about how we can help educators beyond our own school walls. It quickly became clear that we need to get ourselves established at the very least resource-wise within educator focused associations. As more and more schools restrict access to libraries in-house and go without librarians, it seems more important than ever to make sure that the knowledge and resources we have aren’t simply kept in-house.