This exhange came across LM_Net recently:
Hey 'Netters -
I know I risk opening up a big ol' can of worms here, but I'm actually interested in this as a professional.
Recently, someone self-identified as a library paraprofessional asked for LM_Net input in helping to draft library policy.
I don't know anything about this person's library, or district, but the message gave me pause.
Thinking in general terms ...
- With so many of our colleagues around the country being replaced by clerks, how much should we who have earned an MLS support schools that do not see our importance?
- Personally, I have no desire to make the way easier for schools that have dismissed, or never had, librarians, no matter how much I might sympathize with the person placed into these positions.
Last year, our school came very close to dismissing librarians at the elementary and middle school levels. Though I would've done nothing to thwart the library (thus hurting students), I sure as heck didn't want to make it easy on them either!
Tonight, I'm guest lecturing at a library school collection development class. And here is LM-Net, of course featuring the discussion of censorship v collection development. Thanks, LMNet!
and a response
I am one of those people who you don't want to help. I am a library clerk with over 15 years experience. I started in an elementary building where I had the support of a LMS, one day a week. I ran the library, and the LMS taught library skills. Ordering was her job, I typed the PO's. We had one LMS for four elementary buildings. About 10 years ago I transfered to a full-time position as the clerk 1/2 time at our middle and high school with a full-time LMS at each school. My job became more clerical for a time but I still serviced students and teachers when called upon. I was also way more tech savy than either of the LMS I worked for so I was called upon to do a lot of tech trouble shooting.
When I started, our high school was automated with Follett Circ Plus, our middle school had nothing. When we automated the middle school, I did 90% of the work because I understood the program and had more free time. When we migrated to Destiny, I was made the district administrator. I was also made the AR, Star Math and Star Reading administrator.
Second semester last year those dreaded cuts came down and the LMS in the district were cut. It was now ALL up to me. The first thing that I did was join LMNET. I no longer had the luxury of having information passed on to me by my LMS, I needed to find it on my own. I needed to be connected to the latest and greatest information. I am so grateful for everything I have gained from this listserve. When the call went out for donations to keep this listserve going, I made mine immediately. I feel that I have been able to contribute and share information as well. I am well aware of the fact that I don't have the degree and there is not a day goes by that I don't lament the fact that my LMS, my friends are gone, but I also know that the cuts made by our district were hard. The tears at that board meeting came not only from the people being cut, but from the board members as well. I also know that they would reinstate those positions in a heartbeat if they could.
For those of us who post questions asking for help, it is for our students and teachers. We have to survive in the environment we have been dealt. If we didn't care, we wouldn't subscribe to this listserve to begin with. I appreciate that you have the education and I don't. It is your right not to share your ideas and information but I was not placed in this positon to replace a LMS. I have held the positon for 15 years and unfortunately I am the only one left right now. Your lack of contributing information is not making it easier on the district, it is making it harder on the person left to pick up the pieces and keep it going.
I've been struggling with this conflict between treating non-professionals like professionals for years. First, I love my paras, clerks and others with whom I have worked. I believe there are paras who do a better job than some professional librarians I've met. And well-trained paras are better for kids than paras without training.
This blog has dealt with paras and their role in library professional organizations. (Read the follow-up comments!) I certainly understand the fears that we may be enabling the "de-professionalization" of librarians by supporting paraprofessionals doing professional tasks.
When it comes down to it, we need to train, support and enable the paras who work with kids on a daily basis as much as possible. While we wait for a perfect world, we must make this one as good as possible for students.
What's your take?