Hi, learner-ready librarians! What’s your story, your passion, as a learner, and how do you translate that passion into working with other learners? What brought you to the school library profession? I’ll share mine. I hope some who follow me on Twitter @KathrynRLewis will share yours. I went to elementary school and junior high in a small town. My “school library” was a cart in a closet that circulated a couple of times a week. I was privileged to grow up in a household of readers. Mom’s passion was popular fiction and reading for specific information related to her work as a teacher, while dad’s was nonfiction about history, science, and, specifically, geology.
My mom took my sister and me to a fabulous, albeit small, public library that had glass block floors on the top story. During the hot summers I would sit in the adult nonfiction section housed on that top story with those cool glass block floors and look through archeology books, one of my childhood fascinations. I remember being in that area on a summer day when a woman approached me and asked if I was supposed to be there. A librarian, whose name I have long since forgotten, overheard her question and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, that it was important for me to be there because I was researching. That librarian became the first of a long succession of librarian champions for me. The physical space became one of many libraries that I considered places of peace, refuge, growth, inquiry, and pure enjoyment.
So it was not surprising that growing up my sister and I put cards, pockets, and spine labels on the books in our home library. Even less unexpected was the fact that after years of being classroom teachers, we both decided to go back to library school together to earn our degrees in library and information studies. I served as a classroom teacher for over a decade, then as a school librarian at every level. Now I am the director of libraries and instructional technology in an Oklahoma school district of approximately 16,500 learners. Following my passions for reading, information, innovation, and teaching has led me here to this new passion in my life, one where I endeavor to support and champion the work of school librarians who truly transform teaching and learning in learner-ready libraries.
As I think of the many school libraries that comprised my youth and those of my own now grown children, the questions that I frequently ask myself are: What do school librarians do that is unique to the educational landscape? What do we bring to our learners? How did each of us find our passion as a school librarian? I continually ponder how school libraries are evolving to be learner-ready libraries and how we are reimagining our craft to be learner-ready librarians. As I reread the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries and reflect on the world we live in and the world our children live in, I believe that our role has grown to one of unparalleled importance. We are embarking on a quest to equip learners with the abilities to Think, Create, Share, and Grow fluidly in each of the Shared Foundations: Inquire, Include, Curate, Collaborate, Explore, and Engage. Armed with these competencies, our learner-ready libraries connect learners to their unique passions. The librarian who stood up for me in my hometown library and became one of my role models lit a tiny spark of an idea that ultimately became my chosen profession, and most significantly, my passion. As learner-ready librarians, we are uniquely positioned to empower our learners to find their passions.
So as you kick off the 2018-2019 school year, I hope you, as a learner-ready librarian, reflect on your passion and how you use it to inspire learners to find theirs in your learner-ready library!
Author: Kathryn Roots Lewis
AASL President 2018-2019