It’s hard to imagine how quickly time flies and just how many things happen within that flying. And yet, sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I hope, however, that we can always look back over time and see gains, even if they are small. Library advocacy is that way. I’ve been a school library advocate for well over 10 years, and sometimes it seems like not only has little changed, but much more doom and gloom has happened: more libraries close, more librarians laid off, IT folks running libraries…the list goes on. And yet in my state (CA) we came this close to getting a legislative gain. Didn’t win. But got closer than ever before. That’s a win in this day and age. Time to keep on keeping on. But all that said…how the heck do we keep on keeping on if we feel downhearted and disappointed and dejected? That journey of “a thousand steps” really does begin with the first one, and we have to keep putting those feet one in front of the other each day – moving forward – because next time it won’t be this close, it’ll be spot on.
In 2009 I was the California School Library Association President. I wrote the following article in May of that year in response to the many cutbacks and the hard times we in schools were facing. When it was brought to my attention at the last conference (in beautiful Yosemite!) I was struck at how little has changed – while we’re making headway in many places, it always seems like a baby-step thing: forwards, backwards, and a few falls in between. Read it, pass it on, and let your inner optimist go forth. Because advocacy is a relentless activity that requires our energy, passion, and drive; in order to keep it alive, we really do have to spend a moment to reflect, to take a breath, and then soldier on. Enjoy!
CSLA Newsletter May 2009 Volume 32, no. 9 CSLA Newsletter 2009
Garden time—right on the cusp of growing season here in California. This is the perfect time to put everything else on the back burner and dig in the dirt for a while. If you have no dirt, it’s an excellent time to check out the rose gardens in your neighborhood and stop for a minute to smell them.
Sometimes it seems as if the daily news is enough to make you want to crawl back into bed, pull up the covers, and not come out until someone out there can convince you that “all is clear.” And me, the queen of glass half full, woke up the other morning wearing my cranky pants–just too many emails about lost library jobs, news headlines about failing banks, and viruses both physical and virtual. Hanging out in bed was not an option, however, so it was lucky for me that I arrived early to school and was greeted by a quiet, empty library where I was able to begin to collect my thoughts.
When suddenly the door flew open a voice sang—literally sang—a loud “whoo hoo!—anybody here? Ms. Williams…guess what!”
The what was she had been accepted to the university; her first-choice university. How wonderful that the day could turn on a dime and in an instant the world began to look a little brighter. The cranky pants could be folded up and put back into the furthest part of the drawer.
Lao Tzu reminds us to “be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
Optimism can come in the form of watching our students grow into young adults and choosing their life paths. Optimism can come in the form of learning a new language, connecting with old friends, getting a graduate degree or completing a task.
In the school library world, optimism can take the form of action—because with action comes the ability to know that you can work to create a positive outcome. We already know that we’ve got plenty to be worried about, plenty to be fearful of, but when we work together actively towards a solution, then our optimism can become reality.
Write the letter, give the speech, create the painting, and sing the song. Positive action—and the optimism to believe that it will change things—can make all the difference in how you view your day.
Now go forth and enjoy some roses…
Author: Connie Williams
NBCTeacher Librarian and author of “Understanding Government Information: a Teaching Strategy Toolkit for grades 7-12”. Member of the CA State Library Services Board, and History Room Librarian at the Petaluma Regional Library [Sonoma County Library]. She welcomes all conversation.. give a holler!