You need a degree for that?

I was on my way to get a haircut after nearly 7 months of neglecting to do so. 

I had chopped my hair off to make my life easier for my current chapter of my life (work, school, kid, trying to live healthy). While I take time to workout, cook my meals and sleep, I do not take the same time to cut my hair, do my nails, go shopping. So, I made an appointment with my hair dresser and here is what transpired, in the form of a play:

Scene One: Saturday afternoon, unnamed Salon and Spa, woman’s head is resting on a shampoo bowl, another woman is starting to wash her hair.

Hair Stylist: What’s new with you?

Me: You know, working and I’m still working on getting my Master’s in Library Science 

Hair Stylist: You know, if I were to make any cuts to the federal budget, that would be one of the first two things to go: library and postal service. I mean, we should just get rid of the mail getting delivered on Saturdays

Me: ….. [surprised, but calm] Ok, do you every go to the library?

Hair Stylist: No, I haven’t set foot in the library in years. 

Me: I’m excited about it because the library serves so many in the community. It is a place where you have access to Wi-fi, books, and all these services for people with different needs

Hair Stylist: [changes subject]

Scene Two: Sunday evening, house of my relative, eating barbeque, potato salad and grilled vegetables

Me: So I’ve decided to get my Master’s in Library Science, to become a school librarian. 

Relative: A librarian? You have to go to school for that? ….Listen, all you need to know is this, “Shhhhh!”

Me: [chuckles uncomfortably] Actually libraries are super different now, they are places to meet and learn and create and they offer lots of services to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.

Relative: [changes subject]

As a musician and educator, I never remember feeling that someone verbally lessened my career. When I experienced these interactions above, I was not shocked, but mildly surprised. In INFO 5001, I was exposed to ALA’s elevator speeches. I noted how proactive ALA was about forms of advocacy such as these.

 Here are the questions that quickly came to my mind upon further reflection:

Were my responses to these comments succinct, thoughtful? Were they a positive, and compelling response? Was I responding as an advocate for the library?

Am I prepared, verbally, to react to comments such as the ones above? 

These people were close and comfortable being open and honest with me. How can I be proactive about advocacy about a large community that might not be as vocal about their thoughts on the library? 

Advocacy or #whendidthe AASLgettheirducksinarow?

As a non-native to the literacy teaching world, I am impressed with the content to which I have been led by Module 5: Advocacy. I am checking out all these toolkits that they offer: “School Librarians Role in Reading Toolkit”, “School Library Health and Wellness Toolkit” and “Parent Advocate Toolkit”, just to name a few of my open tabs.

The link I have just spent a few moments on is entitled, “Elevator Speeches.” The criteria to be an elevator speech is a speech that is 100-150 words and answers questions such as, “What the product, service, or project is” and, “Who you are and why you will be successful.” As you scroll down, you then see actual examples of what your “elevator speech” can be depending on the audience. 

Where were these elevator speeches when I first started teaching? I remember so often in my first years of teaching trying to come up with words to get my message of music advocacy across. I always felt it came across as jumbled and incoherent. Even now, I don’t think I could give an elevator speech for my craft. 

Dear AASL, 

When did you get your act together? When did you realize that in order to keep the school library relevant, you needed to make all sorts of tool kits? When did you realize that with all the things a teacher librarian has to do, creating sites that can quickly address advocacy to stakeholders was something that you’d take care of for all of them? 

AASL, I know you are not one person, but I like to anthropomorphize organizations like you. You’re so amazing. You know your purpose. You are here to help. You are here to serve the world of library. You are here to serve students. As some of my colleagues say, “Yaaaasss!”