Sunday, January 31, 2010

Seeking subtitle

As I referred to in an earlier post, and as most of you know (thought it's recently been brought to my attention that people who are not friends and family have actually read this blog on occasion. Which is I suppose is part of the whole point of writing publicly, but it still feels weird), I have recently been promoted, in a manner of speaking. I wrote out a new job description and everything, which is quite long; I realized, however, that it doesn't include much in the way of new responsibilities--there's just a lot of different aspects to my job. It was oddly comforting, however, to see them all written out concretely--this is why I often feel overwhelmed.

The big additions to my job responsibilities include writing and implementing a research curriculum for the school. It's now currently possible--depending on the classes and teachers a student has during their time here--for a student to avoid doing any significant research until they are seniors--or possibly at all. While it's clearly needed--you can't really have a good library program without a clearly articulated curriculum--it's also a rather daunting task, and I'm still wrapping my head around it, but you can expect to hear more about as I figure it out. But this post is not about that--this post is about my job title.

My "official" title is now Director of Library Services and Research Instruction, which I'm somewhat conflicted about, as I believe that one's grasp on reality is inversely proportional to the length of one's job title. I still haven't changed the signature line on my e-mail, and I can't decide if I want to. I know I came up with the title and all, but it just seems so. . . pompous (and while I have an inkling what Clay Shirky might have to say about that, I am really okay with not coming off as a self-aggrandizing jerk). And part of me feels like a job title this long deserves a subtitle--ideally one that can be turned into an acronym. I'm more than open to suggestions.

I do, however, really like the idea of being a library director, particularly because my very first professor in library school made it abundantly clear to my class that a) none of us could ever be school librarians, and b) none of us would ever be library directors. Someday I hope Greg Byerly Googles his name and learns how very, very wrong he was, as I am a school library director less than three years after getting my degree. So there. And I will freely admit that part of the reason that I wanted the word "Director" to be part of my job title was because of him. Spite can be an excellent motivator.

I am, apparently, not the only one thinking about job titles. After Midwinter, AASL issued the following press release: AASL votes to adopt the professional title school librarian. While such an announcement is doubtlessly greeted by a mildly confused 'duh' by anyone outside the world of libraries who might be paying attention, I'm glad that the American Association of School Librarians has decided that its members should be referred to as. . . school librarians.

I am hoping the title "Media Specialist" dies a quick, quiet death. I understand the intention behind the title, but it's meaning was lost on me, and on most of the general public. I've been reading discussions on LM_Net, with some arguing vehemently on behalf of the title, saying it makes it clear to people that librarians are adept at using technology. I've stayed out of the discussion, because my only response is, "No, it doesn't." It makes us sound like some weird hybrid between librarians and the anchorman on the evening news. I'm pretty adept with a lot of different technologies, but I would never consider myself a "media specialist"; I'm an information specialist, regardless of the medium. And we already have an excellent title for people who are information specialists--librarian.

The services offered by and roles played by public library has continued to change as well, but they have not insisted on being called "Public Media Centers", nor are public librarians being called "media specialists." If part of what we're doing in school libraries is trying to create lifelong library users (which, I think it can be easily argued, it is), it makes sense that we share the same name as the libraries we hope our students will someday use.

For me, it comes back to sounding too self-important. The title "Library Media Specialist", like my new official job title, just sounds pompous to me--more about perception than action. Which is why, no matter what job role or title I take on, I'll always simply want to be known as a school librarian.

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