Call me Ishmael…I mean…School Librarian

Cindy and Lynn: At the ALA Midwinter Meetings the American Association for School Librarians board voted to change our official name from “School Library Media Specialist” to “School Librarian.” We think it’s about time they caught up with us. 😉 We don’t have to worry about reprinting our business cards because we never changed our title. We understand the desire to have a sexy new name each time a new media or service is introduced to library services, but we are glad to pass, thanks. “Media Specialist” always left us cold. A wise mentor librarian once told us, “Kids don’t go to the public media center, or graduate to research in a college media center. People know what libraries are.” Now, maybe they don’t know what “librarians” are or what we really do, but the name is a lot more clear than “media specialist” and educating people has more to do with the impact we make every day than with the title on our desk plaque.

Back at New Year’s we tweeted about the 2010 Banished Words List published by the Lake Superior State University. In 2000, Cindy’s submission of “cybrarian” made the banished list:

Proud librarian Cindy Dobrez of Grand Haven, Mich., said she can’t understand why librarians need to rename themselves every time a new information resource becomes available. “Add a few filmstrip kits to a library and all of a sudden you must be a ‘media specialist.’ Now, with the Internet, some feel the need to be called ‘cybrarians.’ Librarians help people find and use information in whatever format it is delivered.”

We understand that school librarians do much, much more than most users or bosses ever comprehend no matter what our associations decide to call us. Our concerns lie with the educational and economic decisions that are being made across the country resulting in dwindling numbers of us, whatever you want to call us.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

5 Comments on "Call me Ishmael…I mean…School Librarian"

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  1. aaronbrant1978@gmail.com' Aaron says:

    Most certainly, right on!

  2. scopenotes@gmail.com' Scope Notes says:

    Here, here! I’m with you guys (and AASL) on this. The term Media Specialist just never seems quite right.
    And man am I glad Cybrarian didn’t catch on.

  3. I second Judy’s comment. I hated the way “library media specialist” worked, I hated explaining it, and none of my students ever referred to me as Mrs. Metzger, library media specialist. So, now I am a librarian that works in a media center (it’s emblazoned on the wall). I can live with that.

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