Rattling cages – perceptions of school libraries

As part of the workshop on self-advocacy for school libraries, I asked the workshop attendees to be brutally honest in evaluating what they believe the perception of school libraries is in most educational communities.  And brutal it was.  We agreed that we do have a branding problem, and a quick look at the Wordle below will show you why.  I used the text from the participants’ brainstorm, and one of the things which struck me was the number of words beginning with the prefix ‘un’ – unprofessional, unapproachable, unnecessary and unsupported.

Although it created a few depressing moments as we discussed what we are up against, I believe we do need to acknowledge the reality faced by the profession, so that we can find strategies that deal with each of the perceptions underpinning the current ‘brand’.  If you plan to beat ’em, you have to first know ’em!

SLANZA Conference workshop feedback - school library branding

So, yes, there was bad news.  But there was also good news.  We shared specific strategies for beginning to embed libraries in the New Zealand curriculum – using the key competencies, vision, and values, and relating them to your school’s goals and specific student learning outcomes.  Learning to speak the languages of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, so that we can have meaningful conversations with teaching colleagues.  Beginning to use evidence-based practice to support our claims that well-resourced, professionally staffed libraries add value and make a difference.  And above all, not just walking the talk, but shouting the talk to everyone, everywhere, whether they want to hear it or not!

So what does your school library brand look like?  How about getting your teachers, or students, to provide you with the words to create your own Wordle?  That might be your first step towards evidence-based practice.

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4 Responses to Rattling cages – perceptions of school libraries

  1. thewhaanga says:

    Great post Donna 🙂

    That wordle *is* a bit depressing, however I enjoyed seeing the “brown cardie” in there (?!)

  2. lisa says:

    Great post Donna. You are so right – we need to be clear and honest about the current situation if we are going to change it. No company would embark on a rebranding excercise without fully understanding their current position, strengths, weaknesses and importantly strategic objectives and goals for the brand and the business.

  3. kaarenhirst says:

    Like the idea of the Wordle for evidence-based practice.

    Had an interesting discussion with an IT technician. His view was that school libraries and the IT department needed to be working together. My experience suggests that when you are tech savy you are more likely to be taken seriously by your colleagues within the school. And I mean the school community. Once they take you seriously from this perspectiive you can build the relationships that show the real value of professional librarians in schools. As you you say a long haul, but one that needs to start as of yesterday.

    Thanks for your thought provoking insights into the profession as a whole. 🙂

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