Sunday, August 21, 2016

Raising the Next Generation of Librarians

    This past spring,  I had a unique opportunity.  One of my middle school colleagues contacted me about having one of her 7th grade students come over and shadow me.  He has an interest in being a librarian for his career.  I jumped at this chance to have a student shadow me.

     This opportunity got me thinking about what we are doing to help raise up the next generation of librarians.  In this day and age when education programs are seeing fewer students enroll and by extension the number of candidates for teaching positions is shrinking (especially in areas of science math and technology) it is even more paramount.  What will that mean for a specialized field such as school librarianship? Will there be enough qualified candidates to continue the important work of 21st century librarianship we have begun?

    The 7th grader was on my campus for about 2 hours in the middle of the morning.  I made it my goal to show him as many different aspects of the job of a school librarian as I could in that short time in order to paint as clear of a picture as I could of what it means to be a 21st Century school librarian.  He got to see how to collaborate, connect, administrate, publicize, and learn in the context of the LJHS library program.

     The morning opened with a Skype with a class of high school students from Transylvania, Romania.  The topics discussed ranged from how students in Eastern Europe view the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe, to current presidential candidates in the United States and our cultural similarities.

     I also worked with this student to teach him some basics of coding in Snap and he practiced writing a program to make the one of the Finch robots we have on loan this year move across the carpet in several directions.

     We also visited with teachers in the hall and in their classrooms about upcoming collaborations.  We talked with the home economics teacher about judging the Cupcake Wars contest she invited me to participate in and discussed an upcoming lesson with one of the 8th grade science teachers where they will be writing code in the library to move a Finch robot through  student created mazes.

     So how exactly to we raise up the next generation of school librarians?  I think it means employing some of the methods we already use to publicize our programs with our constituents.

Here are a few practical steps:

Present our profession to future administrators and instructional facilitators in the college classes/workshops so many of us teach at night.

Promote/publicize our careers as librarians to our students-what do they see us modeling?  Is it just flashy programming? Do they see us thinking outside of the box?  Do they see us succeeding and failing at times with new ideas and technologies?

Stay in Touch.
I gave this student my email address and encouraged him to send me questions he has about entering the field, and to set up another time to shadow me in the library.

Cultivate Potential.
When we see potential in our students and teachers as future media specialists, we need to tell them!  Think back to why you became a librarian.  Did it have something to do with a particularly inspiring experience in the library, or the relationship you had with a librarian growing up, or in the building(s) you taught in before becoming a librarian?  Let us all be that same inspiration to our students going forward!

     When we take these conscious steps, we will already be moving in the right direction to raise up the next generation of librarians!

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