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« I don't really want a 1:1 program | Main | Age appropriate activities - Part 2 »

BFTP: Dangerous statements librarians make

Sometimes librarians can be their own worst enemies. I shudder when I hear these phrases uttered:

1. But the school HAS to have a librarian/library.

2. The research proves that libraries improve student achievement. (Subtext: So I don't have to.)

3. Kids can't come into the library at _________ time...
           - because I have work to do
           - because I might need to step out and they would be unsupervised
           - because it is MY library and what I say, goes.
           - because I need 4 weeks in the fall and spring to get it ready/shut it down
           - (Subtext: Because they annoy me.)

4. I can't create a good program because I am in a fixed schedule.

5. Having a study hall in the library is out of the question.

6. I let the technology people take care of that (to a teacher who needs help NOW.)

7. Correct bibliographic format is absolutely critical (Subtext: No matter how brilliant the content.)

8. I can't work with a teacher who does not give at least _____ days/weeks/months advance notice.

9. The library catalog information has to conform to _________________ standards and I will spend all my discretionary time cataloging until it is!

10. Computers and the Internet are the bane of reading and rational thought. I refuse to learn about them.

11. Wikipedia/blogs/Twitter/etc. is not an acceptable source of information.

12. If only the principal/teachers/parents knew what I do they'd appreciate me!

13. It's my job to read so if I read on the job others can just think what they want.

14. But ALA/AASL Standards say ___________________________.

15. That kid has shown he can't be responsible so he'll never check anything out from this library again.

16. Computer games in my library? (Subtext: It would just bring kids in and they annoy me.)

17. I can advocate for my own program. I don't need anyone else vocally supporting it.

18. My expertise in children's/young adult literature makes me indispensable to my school.

19. I don't need to collect data about my program. My principal loves me.

20. I don't teach "computer skills." That's the technology department's job.

21. The right job title will make my position more secure.

OK, those are 21 fast ones off the top of my head and are dedicated to Chris Harris who sparked the idea.

I am not convinced that the profession as a whole is in a crisis. But I suspect a lot of librarians (who aren't reading this blog anyway) may be.

And rightfully so.

What other dangerous statements do you hear from your library colleagues that make you wince?

Original post April 21, 2010.

This post was also reincarnated as a Head of the Edge column.

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Reader Comments (10)

So interesting to read these after five years and see how many of the "objections" you list (use of social media by librarians for their programs) are now so much more the norm. Some still make me wince, though, with their truth--and probably will for a long time.

May 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSara Kelly Johns

Hi Sara,

In general, I seem to hear fewer of these kinds of statements now that 5 years ago. I had a couple workshops with librarians/principals in Oneonta and Norwich NY last week, and they were all very progressive, I thought. (Must be the good NYLA leadership!)

Hope things are going well,


May 17, 2015 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Great post!!! librarians do have great importance because they serves as a post man in gaining knowledge and i hope that this article will be more useful for students.

May 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGodavari Pushkaralu

I really enjoy your posts like this. Too many of these statements are too easy for us to use as a crutch. As we much as we hate to think that we're each indispensable, our schools will continue to function with or without us, albeit not as well if we're not there.

May 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bilmes

Thank you, David. I expect it is not just librarians who need to consider our concept of indispensability compared to that of others.


May 21, 2015 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Another one: You don't understand how busy I am (subtext- my busy is more, better, etc ) As a library supervisor I hear from teachers - what is my librarian doing that makes them SO MUCH more busy than I am as a classroom teacher.

May 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Morgester

Thanks, Ann. I've always thought that anyone in a school with discretionary time or $$$ is viewed with suspicion, so extra transparency (shared calendars, shared budgets) is needed. This isn't the solution to my priority being higher that your priority necessarily, but it would a step in the right direction.


May 22, 2015 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

This is spot on! It's sad to listen to other younger librarians of my generation falling into the old way of doing things and making these statements, eek. I couldn't imagine using any of the statements above. Libraries need to change and grow with the times, and in schools our most important role to keep relevant is technology, teaching, and support. Books, cataloging, and collections are the smallest piece of what I do. Focusing on technology and PD is how I keep my role continually funded in the budget year after budget slashed year! If more librarians were tech-savvy and interested in that aspect of the job, less schools would need to hire what I'm seeing now as PD Tech Coach teachers, because the librarians would be filling those roles.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Thanks, Kate.

I think we all could use some training in how to hear ourselves as other hear us. Including me!

Appreciate the comment,


May 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I can't believe they want me to help with technology....
I didnt choose this career to work with technology....,
I need them to bring "my" books back....

And so it goes, to which my response is, have you read the scope of effective practice and requirements for your license lately?

June 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary

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