I posted recently my thoughts on, and perceived challenges with, our upcoming subject Teacher Librarian as Leader. I’ve since participated in July’s #auslibchat on Leadership and attended the New Librarians Symposium 9 in Adelaide.
Participating in #auslibchat helped me to understand that leaders are not necessarily the people who are in management/leadership positions.
A1 To me, leaders are people who start conversations and set the professional tone. People setting examples of how to be good, ethical, purposeful, accomplished librarians. They’re not necessarily managers. They don’t have to be. #AusLibChat
— Alissa M. (@lissertations) July 2, 2019
While Alissa wasn’t the only person to say something along those lines, it was the contribution that struck me the most. In fact, the message throughout the chat was so strong, it was one of the first things mentioned in the summary of the chat (ALIA NGAC, 2019).
Marika Simon, a fellow ETL504 student has been on a similar thought journey to me. She started off reflecting on her own position as a teacher librarian in a primary school and drew similar conclusions to my initial post, but when she looked more broadly and considered the understandings she has of leadership from contexts outside a school, she began to see leadership as less of a title or rank and more about setting an example and serving (Simon, 2019).
My attendance at NLS9 also helped me refine my concept of leadership. Leaders are people who get out there and do things. They make the connections, they ask the hard questions and they do something about it. Kassi Grace, a young librarian from Melbourne, only got into the world of Zines about twelve months ago, but merely months after learning about this hobby, went to APLIC and brought materials with her to create an unofficial APLIC Zine, and presented at NLS9 about Zines, as well as providing materials for a collaborative NLS9 zine to be made (Grace & McCulloch, 2019). She’s young and inexperienced but she’s become a leader in the field of library zines in a short time because she gets in and does it.
Marika Simon also brings another perspective to the fore that I had not considered in this context – the concept of servant leadership (Simon, 2019). Servant Leadership is a well regarded concept, even beyond the bounds of churches and places of worship, but how does one balance that with not becoming a doormat?
So, how does this new-found leadership understanding apply to the world of teacher librarianship? I’m still not sure. If you’re a time-pressed, under-resourced solo teacher librarian in a primary school, how do you find time to “lead”? How can you win over teachers and executive to allow you to present at staff meetings, innovate, or try something a little different? How do you ask more money from an already over-stretched school budget? How do we best serve overworked teachers when we are overworked teacher-librarians ourselves? These are still questions I have no answers to.
I wanted to add these thoughts from Alison Cunningham on the subject discussion forums! I love this and I think this will be my motto from now on.
I really do see the Teacher Librarian’s role as a leader in schools but it is the sneaky, tricky kind where people don’t know they are being led and hopefully just feel they are being supported instead. We have the power to lead teachers to all kinds of wonderful teaching and learning opportunities but we just need to find a way to make our worth known and our skills sought out. (Cunningham, 2019, para 3).
Ninja leadership! I love it!
ALIA NGAC (2019) Leadership. (Wakelet) Retrieved from https://wakelet.com/wake/b3343f79-0acd-4ed0-968f-d4da048eb553
Cunningham, A. (2019, July 8) Alison 2154 Castle Hill. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42385_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78888_1&forum_id=_164193_1&message_id=_2342753_1
Grace, K. & McCulloch, A (2019, July) Photocopying the revolution: librarians making zines and changing the world. At that Australian Library and Information Association’s New Librarians Symposium 9, held in Adelaide, SA.
McCulloch, A. [lissertations] (2019, July 2) A1 To me, leaders are people who start conversations and set the professional tone. People setting examples of how to be good, ethical, purposeful, accomplished librarians. They’re not necessarily managers. They don’t have to be. #AusLibChat (tweet). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/lissertations/status/1146012195076988935
Simon, M. (2019, July 8) Initial thoughts on teacher librarian leadership. Mrs Simon Says. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mrssimonsays/2019/07/08/initial-thoughts-on-teacher-librarian-leadership/