We Belong

A series of  text and podcast interviews with AASL members who share why they belong in the school library field and as members of AASL.


Hilda Weisburg

Retired School Librarian, New Jersey


Lorraine Hart

Retired Media Specialist, Ohio

How did you come to be a school librarian?
When I began my master's degree, I was torn between becoming a reading specialist and a media specialist. I opted to become a media specialist and complete extra courses to become certified as a school librarian. I moved from being a teacher (language arts, speech, theatre) to being a media specialist for grades 7-12.

What do you most like about the school librarian profession?
I loved the freedom to support all areas of the curriculum and to offer independent studies to high school students in research skills and educational media. I was also able to intervene on behalf of some students who were struggling and near failing.

What are some of the changes you've experienced since entering the profession?
I entered the profession in 1979. There were no computers and all work was completed by hand. There were 16mm projectors and overhead projectors.  During my tenure computers were introduced, The library was automated, The classrooms were equipped with TVs (Channel One) and DVDs replaced VHS. When I left in 2006, there was a computer lab in the library. Smart boards were being introduced in the building.

What do you see as the greatest challenge (or opportunity) for the profession going forward?
The greatest challenge to the profession in my area of Ohio is the survival of the professional staff. When I left in 2006, I was replaced with an aide and my independent studies were dropped. I belong to the state organization, OELMA, and a regularly read on the listserv that schools are dropping all professional library staff.

How did you find AASL? Why did you join?
I found AASL when I joined ALA. I joined to support my school colleagues.

What do you value most about your membership?
I value the opportunity to support school librarians.

How long have you been a member?
30+ years?

What influenced you to become involved with the work of AASL?
The organization represents me.

What has being an AASL member brought to you professionally? Personally?
AASL brought me information about my profession. My school district is small and I have no colleagues in the building who understand educational media and library science. Personally I felt membership was right for me.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Little did I know 1979-2006 were the "golden years" for educational media and library science in western Ohio. It will take years and years to rebuild what we have lost in the past six years.


Patricia Oliver

Librarian, Virgin Islands

How did you come to be a school librarian?
I was taking a Grad level edu. course and the professor scheduled a trip to the library. I have an assignment what was killing me. I listened with one ear to the librarian who shared sources while wondering how to get out. While flipping through a journal, there was the answer to my killer assignment! IT WAS A LIGHT BULB MOMENT! It took me the rest of the semester to switch majors, but I am glad it did.

What do you most like about the school librarian profession?
Helping people, children and adults, find answer to their questions. Seeing others have a light bulb moment. I tried a 'book pusher' project at an elementary school using drug pushers as a model, "Here Kid, try it!" Being as curious as a cat, I'm never bored. Every course I've ever taken; accounting, belly dance, German, etc, is tax deductible as it improves my skills but not my income. And of course, as a school based professional, Christmas and summers off.

What are some of the changes you've experienced since entering the profession?
The information delivery system from purely print to a mix of print, audio, visual and digital. There has also been a waxing and waning of funding and administrative support. A shift among children from face-to-face interaction to electronic social networking. A librarian is books only, a media specialist is all tech. "Cut and paste' is replacing 'copying word for word'.

What do you see as the greatest challenge (or opportunity) for the profession going forward?
A librarian is books only, a media specialist is all tech. The delivery system, at least for funding purposes, is more important than content. Programed instruction, the full content, is becoming prepackaged. The private sector (not private schools) takeover of public education.

How did you find AASL? Why did you join?
ALA membership was encouraged in grad school and AASL came with the package.

What do you value most about your membership?
Most of the time, I was a 'lonely only'. Membership was a chance to 'talk dirt Dewey'.

How long have you been a member?
Off and on since 1956.

What influenced you to become involved with the work of AASL?
I worked in Michigan, for the Overseas school system of the Department of Defense and now the US Virgin Islands. It was survival because of the lonely-only issue.

What has being an AASL member brought to you professionally? Personally?
A sense/ feeling of community. Lots of 'goodies' when I went to national conventions. Pride of position.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I noted the answers got shorter as I did this survey but....... It's cool to walk down the aisle at the store and be stopped and recognized by someone with a smile as a librarian!
 

Pamela Tuggle

School Librarian, Virginia

How did you come to be a school librarian?
Have always wanted to be a librarian since 6th grade.

What do you most like about the school librarian profession?
The job is never boring.

What are some of the changes you've experienced since entering the profession?
Addition of media to books in school libraries, and all the various stages of change with media - film and filmstrip to VHS & Beta to DVD and now the move of everything to digital content.

What do you see as the greatest challenge (or opportunity) for the profession going forward?
Determining what will be in a collection - whether a mix of print and digital, or all digital, and storage for digital content.

How did you find AASL?
Through ALA.

What do you value most about your membership?
Keeping up with what is current in the school library field.

How long have you been a member?
28 years

What influenced you to become involved with the work of AASL?
Help me keep current, and a resource for all things related to school libraries.