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In response to my recent post "13 Point Library Checklist for School Principals," an anonymous commenter left a rather sad observation:


If given the article, would my principal even understand what he'd read?


Personally, I've found that given enough time and enough effort, all administrators can learn. But it is up to the building librarians to be the instructor. Nobody else can or will do it for us.

One of my earliest published articles, "Using Planning and Reporting to Build Library Support," appeared in the Book Report (now LMC) magazine way, way back when the earth was still cooling - 1992. Based on my own efforts as a high school librarian at the time, the second part of the article talks about the necessity for an ongoing, long-term, formal communication plan aimed in large part directly at the building principal. Nothing has changed except the number and quality of tools with which we can communicate. Really.

As a profession we too often bemoan the fact that principal training programs, administrative conferences, and professional journals either ignore or malign librarians. Leading me to believe that too many of us have developed a "victim" mentality.

Here's my bold prediction: Anyone who thinks of him/herself as victim in education will wind up as one.

Somehow your principal managed to scrape together enough brains to get a college degree (probably a couple), fool somebody in an interview, and maybe even win the approval of others in your building and community. These folks are teachable. Take advantage of it.

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Reader Comments (9)

Awesome! I've definitely been doing my part while talking to the administrators and district people I've run into lately. I don't know how it'll be if and when I get a media specialist job, but I'm always trying to talk up the program in term of the importance of critical thinking about all the information out there and our students being able to think critically and make connections. That's something they seem to get. I love that Terri Kirk quote you used: "In the information age, who could be more important than a librarian? We specialize in information." That'll get them thinking...

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim Randolph

When Jim Randolph wrote that "that principal training programs, administrative conferences, and professional journals either ignore or malign librarians. Leading me to believe that too many of us have developed a "victim" mentality", it struck a chord with me. I feel like I've been playing the "poor me" game already this year, complaining about my schedules (at two elementary schools), the number of students I have (994 as of today), and how classroom teachers really just see me as a place to drop kids off for a half hour of free time.

But, now I have to wonder if I've tried to be proactive - to promote the importance of the library. I have not. At least not enough. So, maybe I will. No, I mean, I will begin to put my complaining aside and get after the business of making the library the most important place/program in the school.

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Follmuth

I believe this: "We don't see things as they are. We don't see things as WE are." --Anais Nin

October 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Baumbach

Hi Ninja,

Keep hammering at them. The primary law of communication is "Keep your message simple and repeat it over and over!"


Hi Robert,

I needed to read your comment to help me remember just how difficult some librarians' jobs really are. It's pretty easy to give advice when you are not right in the trenches. I DO hope your situation improves through good communication efforts. I know no other means of progress.

All the very best and thanks again,


Hi Donna,

Great quote. Why do so many librarians feel so powerless, I wonder? So many smart people among them too. Is it a personality type that is drawn to the field? (Did I just get in trouble for saying that?)

Hope things are going well for you,


October 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

You are absolutely spot on!
When people start victimzing themselves their imagined issues become real, and if they keep thinking/ talking about it then it becomes visible to all around. It is so necessary to focus on the positive!

November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaya

Thanks, Maya. Concentrate on the positive - and take real steps to change the negative.

All the best,


November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I like this blog very much.That quote is really true.This is a good post and interesting too.Thank you very much for giving such a good post to us.I completely agree with some of your points.

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercreatine 

@ Doug
As one of those school administrators who managed to fool someone in an interview I'd argue that we are as a group rather teachable and thank you for your kind words.

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie A. Roy

Hi Charlie,

My sense is that librarians (and teachers) could all stand a bit of education on the challenges of principalship. I'm pretty sure that will be my job in purgatory.

All the best,


November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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