Librarians reading on the job was a hot topic for discussion this week on LM_Net. Tere started it with a posting that included these comments made by other staff as she was reading a children's book during the school day:
Well you would have thought, I was lying down taking a nap. Everybody that walked by my door (my desk is right by the door ) made a comment. "I'm going to give you a job." "If you've got time to read, I've got something for you to do." Etc. Next time, I'm going to go hide behind the stacks to read!
A few responses were similar to Allan's:
I don't give a hoot what people think of me or what I am doing. When I have received a remark about "wouldn't it be nice if....[one could read books all day]?" I have responded. "Yes it is very nice." If I am feeling a little nasty or don't like the tone of the remark, I have responded "I would be more than happy to get you some information about a library school if you are interested."
While many of us have probably wished we could say these sorts of things, we don't. For some good reasons including job security and our concern over how our profession is viewed by others.
My personal rules about on the job reading have always been to:
- Read at my desk (no slouching in the bean bag chairs)
- Read with a pen and paper my hand
- Read materials related to my job
- Read when I could be a role model, such as during Sustained Silent Reading time
- Never, never, never be seen leaving my building without a bag o' work (just like the other teachers)
- Work with the understanding that perceptions are as important as reality
Librarians have one of the few positions in schools with discretionary resources - time, budgets, and tasks - so therefore need to be transparent about how they "spend" all those resources, especially their time.
I made it a point to always be busy, to be seen to be doing something. (It was NEVER of case of having to find something to do, it was a case of which job was most pressing.) I did this because its the kind of person I am, but also because of the extremely negative comments I heard about a predecessor of mine who was often seen reading the newspaper, or a book, "on the job". Sadly, the general public or faculty will never understand that keeping up with current events, what's new and valuable in literature, non-fiction, professional journals, etc. is part of the job... their view will always be 'I never have time to take a breath.. how come he can sit and read all day?' or 'We didn't get a raise this year, and were short a math teacher... and we pay him to sit and read?' Now, imagine those thoughts in an administrator's head.
It's a sad world where reading = slacking, but given the lack of respect schools and society show for professional growth and development of educators, I suppose it isn't surprising.
How did we manage to look busy before there were computers?