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BFTP: Excuses vs Challenges

I will freely admit that many librarians and teachers (and principals and techicians and custodians and secretaries and ...) are working under very difficult circumstances with very high expectations. I am also conscious that I have not been a building level librarian for many years, so my vantage point is from the ivory tower of the district office. But when librarians make excuses, I have issues....

Here is my thought - neither profound nor probably original ...

Any single condition or situation can be either an excuse or a challenge. It all depends on the individual's perspective. I would define an excuse as a challenge that an individual views as unalterable, unchangeable, fated. A challenge is a condition or situation that is real, identified, and important - but we should be working to change. Not just accept.

So any of the following conditions could be either excuses or challenges, depending on how the librarian who is experiencing them, views them:

  • My principal doesn't support libraries.
  • My budget is inadequate.
  • My fixed schedule prevents me from having an effective library program.

But it is the next clause that determines whether the situation is an excuse or a challenge...

  • My principal doesn't support libraries which is why I don't have enough a) staff b) resources c) respect.
  • My budget is inadequate so the collection is old and unused.
  • My fixed schedule prevents me from having an effective library program since I can't integrate my program into the classroom curriculum.

All excuses I hear too much.

However I have respect for librarians who say:

  • My principal doesn't support libraries but I am working to convince him/her that libraries do impact student achievement using both internal and external data.
  • My budget is inadequate but I am building advocacy in my students, staff, and parents to support my proposed budget.
  • My fixed schedule prevents me from having an effective library program but I am working with teachers in the flexible time I have, building support for additional flexible time.

George Washington Carver said "Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." I think that is why I find excuses so abhorrent - that those who make excuses do so from a feeling of powerlessness. 

We do not need powerless librarians. Everyone can change his or her situation - or at least go down knowing one has tried.

Orginal post October 30, 2012

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