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« My April Educational Leadership column is online | Main | The most important reason kids need to learn to be creative »

The place to toot the worth of libraries is NOT in library mags

From the IASL listserv this morning...

Oh boy
As a deputy principal who was a passionate teacher librarian I can safely tell you it is all about the dollar
I could write spooooo many articles about why the school library doesn't feature in curriculum discussions
About why the school doesn't value teacher librarians
About why reading for pleasure is not valued
About why school Principals cannot get the fact that school libraries are so important
It is very depressing
If only I could have the time to write articles for journals other than T L journals
   Independent school journals
   Principal journals
   Middle school journals
   Secondary journals
Folks the place to toot the academic worth of school libraries is NOT in school library journals
Pat Carmichael
Deputy Principal with a mission for school libraries
If only I had another life time
Pat's comments were in response to an announcement that the article Research that Resonates: Influencing Stakeholders by Debra E. Kachel could be found in School Library Monthly.

Pat, I agree. Your observation is one that's been a constant personal irritation over the past 30 years - why do we  librarians just talk to each other and not to others in education?

While I do not do so enough, I've been lucky to get some articles about the impact of libraries and project-based learning in a number of non-library educational publications including Educational Leadership, Kappan, Principal, InterEd, DesignShare, NASSP Bulletin, School Administrator, and others. Maybe one in 10 or one in 20 of my articles are published in journals outside the library or technology field. Not enough for sure.

First, I appreciate anyone who writes for professional publication be that publication library/tech or for general ed or for the general public. It takes time and courage. Thank you. We need to keep each other formed about best practices in our field.

And let's face it - getting published in Kappan or Educational Leadership is a lot more competitive than some of our own journals. But more librarians could publish in general education if they kept these things in mind:
  1. Remember your audience. Why should a principal be interested in libraries anyway. What's in it for the reader? Use non-technical language. Don't impress - inform and convince.
  2. Don't put "library" in the title. Sorry, don't talk about libraries in general. Speak of them in relationship to other programs that may be important: 1:1, literacy, differentiation, 21st century skills, etc.
  3. Have a co-author who is a member of the group for whom you are writing. If you are writing for a professional development publication, get your PD coordinator to co-author. If you are writing for an association publication, get a member of that association to co-author.  
  4. Don't advocate for libraries or librarians. Always, always, always frame your arguments in terms of how libraries benefit students, staff, and your community. Library users.

I'm glad Kachel's article was published in SLM. Smart, proactive librarians will find ways to get it in the hands of their admins and teachers regardless of where it was found. Not only will copies go in principals' (e)mailboxes, but conference time will be scheduled to actually discuss the piece.

But we do need more library professionals writing for educators, parents, and the general public about how library programs can be good for kids. Make your next article one for non-librarians.



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Reader Comments (5)

From Jennifer Zurawski on Google+:

Love this! We are trying to share the HAPPYness from our libraries this month!

April 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

There ARE more and more articles in other-than-library publications than there were 10 years ago. Not enough, but more. You've written a lot of the ones that have been published, Doug. Thank you. Here's one that came out this week from Paige Jaeger in SCHOLASTIC ADMINISTRATOR:

April 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSara Kelly Johns

Thanks, Sara. Perhaps we take the glass half empty stance too often. Thanks for the link as well.

Snow and a 2-hour late start here in MN yet again. Will this weather never end???


April 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

It's so true that we need to get published in other journals read by administrators and others. I just picked up the April edition of Kappan and was delighted to note an article called "The Biggest Classroom in the Building." Here's a link to the abstract:

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGail Formanack

Thanks for the link, Gail.


April 6, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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