When I started my position as an Instructional Technology Specialist in Indian Prairie School District, I would never have guessed that four years later I would have the opportunity to write a blog post in honor of our librarians…yet here I am. What my boss at the time didn’t know, and my fellow librarians still probably don’t know, is that my one of my greatest career passions was to be in a position to support librarians. Having been a former Library Media Center Director in the district, I know first hand how vital the role is to school’s culture. I loved being an LMC Director. I loved the chance to use technology in new ways that could transform how we educate students. I loved watching kids come alive through literature. However, I always had a nagging and lingering thought in my mind. The Library is even so much more. The Library is THE PLACE. The place in which learners grow to love reading, to acquire knowledge through their own inquiry and self- discovery. The library is the HUB of the school. The librarian is central and essential to it all. The librarian is an instructional leader partnering with teachers to help all students succeed.. How could I help spread the word? When my boss told me she would like me to work closely with our librarians and support them and lead them through the transformational change that was coming….my dream came true. As I sat a year later with a member of our district senior leadership, I told her, “Our librarians are an untapped resource”. When my new boss came in and taught us all that in order to grow, we had to become vulnerable and accept the change and transform…I knew it would happen. Timing is everything. Today, four years later, I can honestly say that our librarians are helping to lead the transformational change happening in our district. Each and every one of our librarians have chosen to STAND UP.
Standing up isn’t easy. It takes trust. It takes commitment to the cause. It takes Time. Trust started the summer we did a workshop on Making Spaces in Your LMC. We would Dream Big. We would be Bold. We would be Visionary. At least that was the plan. Half way through that workshop I realized we were collectively getting stuck in what appeared to be so many roadblocks in our way. We had to make a choice. A choice to let the roadblocks stop us, or move around the roadblocks. Anyone in education can easily make a laundry list of roadblocks. We could. Or we could chose Stand Up. We did make that list though, then we put the list in an envelope, and we sealed it. We chose to Stand Up. That was only the beginning. As of today, our middle and elementary school libraries have been supported financially from the district level in order to start the physical space transformation. Had we not chosen to Stand Up three years ago and Dream, be Bold and be Visionary…would we have been ready?
In order to be Future Ready we must chose to Stand Up. I am honored and privileged to see what it looks like and sounds like when librarians chose to Stand Up. Standing Up looks like a librarian who has her eye on that one student who never talks but comes into the library to get book and she chooses to start a conversation. That conversation would lead to helping that student find the book that he was looking for…and through that book that child would find his voice. If that librarian hadn’t chosen to Stand Up and empower that child through literature, would he have found his voice? Standing Up looks like a librarian who has embraced the makerspace movement although fearful of the unknown. Had she not chosen to Stand Up she would have missed hearing students say, “ I never want to leave the library. This is my place”. She would have missed listening to the dialogue between two students as they communicated, collaborated, used critical thinking skills and created. Standing Up looks like a librarian who finds a way to let all voices be heard. Whether that be by bringing in an author that she knows students can identify with, providing a safe place for students to explore their own interests and create a 3D prototype of their invention that will change the world, or simply to provide a safe place for students to just Be Still. Standing Up looks like a librarian who takes the risk and invites a teacher to partner with him as he brings relevance and real world experiences to students as they engage in their course content through inquiry. Standing Up sounds like librarians stepping out of their comfort zone and telling their story through a blog. This is that blog.
This blog was started as a way for each of our librarians to tell their story. Each and every story matters. This blog post is dedicated to our LMC Directors in IPSD 204. You have each chosen to be like the little engine that could….you chose a growth mindset. You chose a “I think I CAN” attitude. And TOGETHER….we CAN and WE DO.
I am privileged and honored to walk alongside each of you as we continue down the Future Ready path. What you do Matters. YOU matter. YOU are essential.
by Laura Nylen