ALSC is for everyone, school librarians included!
Last fall I had the opportunity to become the part-time school librarian at my daughter’s prek-8th grade school. While I was very excited, I was also a bit intimidated. I had spent my entire career in public libraries, and taking over a school library presented a whole host of new challenges. To make matters more interesting, the prior librarian left without leaving much of a transition plan, the physical library was moving within the building, and I didn’t even have the log–in information for the online catalog on my first day. My school’s administration was very supportive (and continues to be very supportive); however, they were tackling other problems, so they didn’t really know much about the school library or have solid expectations of what it should look like, let alone what a library class should include. So to sum up, I started a new position in a brand new space, with all of my books in mis-labeled boxes, with no curriculum, and with trouble accessing the online catalog.
Given all of the challenges, I needed advice, and I needed it fast. The first place I turned to was the network I built through ALSC. Over the years, I had met some awesome school librarians, and they were all willing to take my calls when I asked for advice. With the network of support from fellow ALSC members, I got the library up and running. It felt so great knowing there were people I could turn to and ask “Is this normal?” or “Should I be doing this?” Connecting with colleagues in ALSC who come from all different kinds of libraries has helped me grow and become a better librarian.
School librarians are still librarians—just like our professional siblings in the public libraries, we are tasked with helping students find resources. And we are also tasked with readers’ advisories, developing collections, and other library duties. The ALSC resources are extremely useful in this regard. Why? Because ALSC provides its members with a plethora of resources, including ALSC booklists, a Mock Newbery Toolkit, and webinars on many different topics. ALSC often collaborates with AASL (American Association of School Librarians, another division of ALA) on resources, such as the Public Library & School Library Collaboration Toolkit and the Common Core State Standards Action Toolkit for Public Librarians. These tools save hours of time that I can invest in getting to know my students and improving the physical infrastructure in my new space.
The core competencies that ALSC recommends apply to school libraries just as they apply to public libraries. I leaned into them as a public librarian, and I will continue to do so as a school librarian. I look forward to continuing to connect with more colleagues in all types of libraries though ALSC. After all, it’s all about service to children in libraries – it doesn’t matter what kind of library.
ALSC is my home.
Keary Bramwell is a school librarian in the Chicago suburbs and a member of the ALSC Membership Committee.
This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competencies of: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.
Yes! ALSC is definitely for us too!
-Tara Phethean, a fellow school librarian