The Sweet is Never as Sweet Without…

“Just remember, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour, and I know the sour.” – Vanilla Skies Film, 2001.

I look back on this quote and see an amazing correlation to a truer definition of what role a Librarian is in light of this past 2018-2019 year.  I am proud to say I have been able to see a truer definition of what this occupation has meant to me from the individuals around me.  Some examples are in order for this claim to stand, so, shall we?

At the MLA and the DLA Conference this year in Cambridge, MD, Delaware’s DASL President-Elect co presented on what Makerspaces mean to the educational curriculum and how they extend learning.  Additionally, DASL officers met up with public librarians to demonstrate how a partnership of public librarians and school librarians change the community around them.=during a poster session.  It worked.  That one single day we worked from a poster session, we met individuals from ALL WALKS OF LIFE and learned so much about our positions through the lenses of so many other’s experiences.  We realized the bitter tastes we had to taste were made better with the sweet stories of accomplishments we made recreating the communities around us through dynamic libraries, both educational and public.  With DASL also contributing several auction items, as a DASL Officer, I was excited to also countless other unique and state-oriented auctions items, the sweetness of knowing when all of us in this professions stand up, a difference is made.

Legislative day also brought Kim Read, DASL president, to Senator Baumbach and Sturgeon to find new ways to remind administrators, politicians, educators, and paras that there is a direct link to the number of licensed teachers, the number of printed resources and ultimately test scores.  The visibility and presence of licensed school librarians is needed, essential, and pertinent. The energy of maintaining a professional library presence also remains as valuable as ever.

Spring 2019 showed me from a school library perspective, how I could show others that the  Library Media Center was more than a warehouse.  How could I make others realize this?  When our school star quarterback was diagnosed with kidney cancer, one of the first places the students gathered to discuss how they felt, what they wanted to express, and what they would do next, yes, it all occurred in the Media Center.  When his brother came in every morning just to put his head down and try to grab onto all that was happening, I realized, the Media Center is in fact a hub of activity and promise, if we let it be.  Turning the Library Media Center into the ultimate student literacy union, things happened.  The school found ways to fundraise and share how to from our library, began to organize festival and meetings together, and before long, I was able to recruit 4-5 students per period, finding the time after their work and studies to be behind the desk like me and help answer questions, phones, emails, and strategize.

Wait.  Students?  Working behind the desk?  Isn’t that the ultimate sacrilege?  Scratch that thought. In two short weeks, students that never realized what was possible in a Library Media Center realized how all could operate when motivated and excited about what they could find that they could not before.  Opportunity, responsibility, creativity, risk-taking.  Don’t believe me?  Put a phone in a student’s hands and ask them to make a call as a representative of our Library Media Center to get approval for a community literacy festival, and see a student who never realized what they could take from the library to the world outside of the library latch onto the reality.  Word caught on.  For the next few weeks, students came down and manned phones, emails, and ideas and spread those ideas out across the community and viewed the library of where creativity is born out of literacy.  They witnessed the library being used for instructing students that were deaf, students that were struggling with math and witnessed other students helping them, all from behind the desk and they began to see the value of the Library Media Center in a different light, and how they could also play a part.

Fast forward to May 21, 2019, Delaware Association for School Libraries end of year meeting.  We came full circle and recognized Jennifer Delgado from H.B. du Pont in Red Clay District as School Librarian/Media Specialist of the year, Dr. Edmond Gurdo & Mrs. Amy Hones from Bunker Hill Elementary School District in Appoquinimink School District as DASL Administrator Team of the Year.  We welcomed new DASL President Katelynn Scott, ushered in new Vice President, Patricia Brown, and Patricia Crilley as new secretary.  Speakers Annie Norman and Elizabeth Simmons raised awareness about the new public library and school library resolution Number 40, and reminded Delaware residents of the awesome new events occurring in Delaware for summer reading in public libraries.  

If you look above, this is only a small, tiny view of what has been achieved in school libraries NOT involving the searching and cataloging of books many view as the position of a librarian.  Instead, by fighting for larger numbers of certified librarians in every school, proving more money into more books into higher test scores is relevant, and tasting the bitter and experience the sweet, I find the experience is not enough.  These are small glimpses into stories of a year, what are yours?

Our stories initiated into actions change perceptions of what a Library Media Specialist can do when it comes to sparking innovation into students with instilling responsibility.  Letting students take over and realize how a library can truly be a catalyst and center for discovery and hub center for communicating with a community inside and outside of school walls, changes everything.  In order to continue advocating for the change we want to see, out stories and experiences need to be shared.  Then, and only then, will we be able to truly able to experience the sour, alongside the sweet.   Please join the Delaware Association of School Librarians Facebook group @ https://www.facebook.com/DelawareAssocSchoolLibrarians/ to make your stories of this year heard. Help change the fallacy of a Librarian as merely a caretaker to that of a Library Media Specialist that inspires change in everyone within literary distance. One capable of tasting the sour with the sweet.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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