February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Librarians: Surprise! This is Also Your Job Now | SLJ’s Job Satisfaction Survey

But it’s not all smiles. Both school and public librarians report two major sources of dissatisfaction: they’re overworked and their libraries are underfunded (See Most Common Dissatisfactions, chart above).

School folk in particular commented on the sheer breadth of their responsibilities—which continue to grow: “I was not prepared for the full scope of the job.” “The constantly increasing ‘to-do’ lists and not nearly enough time to keep up.” “Not enough time to do the librarian’s job, the clerk’s job, the teacher’s job, and the computer technician’s job.” “The multitasking that is involved. I have to be an accountant, psychologist, marketing expert, police… the list goes on and on.”

Technology also offers its own set of challenges in the school library. Some school librarians lack a background in technology. (“When I went to library school, the only computer class was a keypunch class, and I didn’t even take that!”) But even the tech-savvy report that they’re often overwhelmed and “always playing catch-up.”

Computers also create management problems (“I spend my afternoons monitoring 30 computers”) and just plain problems (“Some days it seems that all I ever do is repair computers”). To make matters worse, school librarians report that it’s the IT director who gives them the least respect of anyone in the school, second only to the school board.

Lack of recognition remains a real stumbling block for school librarians. This often takes the form of classroom teachers who don’t recognize that school librarians are also teachers, who aren’t interested in collaborating with them, or “who treat librarians as clerical handmaidens, not as educators and colleagues.”

When asked to list what they were most unprepared for, school librarians overwhelmingly mentioned—after technology—classroom management and discipline issues, teaching, and budgetary work.