It's taken me a couple of days to respond to Doug Johnson's post criticizing me (among others) for, basically, being a petulant whiner. I'm both closing out the library and packing to leave Mongolia, so it's been busy.
But I'm here now. And let me start by saying I stand second to no-one in my respect for Doug and all he has done for the profession, but I was really surprised by his response. He either misunderstood my point(s), or I was more unclear than usual.
Doug stated, "What I am hearing is that if I can't play in the game, the game ought
not to be played at all. If the solution to a problem doesn't include
me, let's just let the problem remain unsolved."
That, of course, is not what I meant at all. And I implied--though could have stated more directly--that it would behoove the FCC to work with librarians (collaborate, even!), rather than implanting an expert who knows neither the students, the faculty, nor their skill level, who would bring in a cookie-cutter program, when there is a local expert already in tune to the school's needs.
I would be--and am--thrilled to work with anyone to promote any form of literacy, digital or otherwise, and it is not whining to protest being cut out of the loop, especially for a program that, as it stands, is a mere addition the school's programming. Doug, of all people, knows these skills need to be embedded; a couple of after-school workshops are not going to do much towards addressing student needs.
More to the point, Doug is being disingenuous when he rather snarkily suggests that the complaining librarians expect the ALA to "save our butts," that "good" librarians (with it's implications that the complainers must be "bad" librarians), will "carve out roles for themselves," and just buckle down and "do their job."
Good librarians, librarians who are progressive, and collaborative, and open, and document everything, are being laid off in seemingly-historical numbers. I even referenced the recent cuts to Buffy Hamilton's program as an example, and no one rational could claim she is anything but collaborative, transparent and transformational in her program. As budgets become increasingly tight, administrators, despite the proof right before their eyes, see cutting librarians as an easy way to save some cash without directly cutting the curriculum.
So, yeah, I find his "just do a good job and be proactive" a bit patronizing and naive. I didn't bookmark them, or I'd like, but I've seen far more than one article about award-winning library programs being cut.
Moreover, nobody expects the ALA to ride in on a white horse and save everyone's job. Nor do I think anything I said supports that interpretation. I DO expect them to inform and educate policy-makers, to promote the role of school librarians to the people I cannot. All of the program documentation I could do in the world isn't going to affect the national budget-deciders. But the ALA might, and I expect them to work at that and explain the process, even if it's after the fact. Otherwise, what am I paying dues for--20% off the ALA Store? I don't think so.
What I HAVE been thinking lately is re-envisioning this whole advoacy thing. A little preview of an upcoming post (once I'm home and over the jeg lag!): I taught an English class this year, and had the interesting experience of collaborating with myself. Here's the thing: when kids were researching for a project, the English-teacher me actually thought "I don't have time to do the whole research lesson" rigamarole. How's them potatoes? It really has me wondering whether trying to get teachers to "jump on board" the library train is the right approach, or whether we need to go a different route.