Tech coordinator vs. librarian: When you wear two hats, the lines tend to blur
Kudos to Sarah Ludwig, the tech coordinator who was interviewed for School Library Journal’s cover story, “Next Year’s Model.” [Sarah Ludwig] sounds likes she is serving her students and colleagues well. However, I do have to say that there are many school librarians out in the field who have been doing similar things for years. Maybe we are all just flying under the publicity radar.
As a learning resource center director for an elementary school, I do it all: teach information and media literacy to both students and teachers; teach and promote the use of new technologies, again, to both students and teachers; search for and promote the use of print and digital resources; collaborate with my colleagues to develop technology projects that promote student learning in all content areas; teach and co-teach those projects from beginning to end; write curriculum to meet the new Common Core standards; write grants to help fund for all this cool stuff; AND promote a love of reading and literacy through readers’ advisory, read alouds, family reading nights, collection development, and community outreach. On any given day, I am in the library, in the tech lab, and in the classroom. And I am proud to do it under the title of librarian. Admittedly, I go home pretty tired at the end of the day. But that’s how I roll!
Learning Resource Center Director
Butterfield & William
Hammerschmidt Schools, Lombard, IL
I read the article, “Next Year’s Model” with interest. It is refreshing to see a younger generation move into the profession as many of us near retirement. However, I couldn’t help wondering about the librarian at the school where Sarah Ludwig works. There was no mention of the librarian in the article. Does the school have one? There was a question asking how Sarah Ludwig works with teachers, but no question about how she works with the librarian? Or has she replaced the librarian? Ms. Ludwig said she would have her workspace in the library this year, but her title is still not “librarian.” I hope we don’t get into the “title wars” again (what to call ourselves).
Terman Middle School
Palo Alto Unified School District, CA
I was very excited to see the article, “Next Year’s Model,” in School Library Journal, but I wish it had more about how to market yourself to get the tech coordinator position. In most public schools you need a variety of other certifications, or a Type 75 (administrative license). As someone who was recently laid off, I’d like that information!”
I know there has been some discussion about this article with respect to “next year’s model.” In my opinion, creating a “new model” does NOT mean that the old model shouldn’t exist any longer or that it was broken. I equate it to the flipped model of instruction. There are some who believe that it can transform teaching/learning, and others who don’t. Without a doubt, the flipped model IS a new model. It’s not right or wrong, just NEW. If it works for you, great; it shouldn’t make teachers who continue to use a different model feel like they are any “less” of a teacher.
Sarah Ludwig replies:
I work very closely with the lower school librarian, and this past year I served as the middle and upper school librarian on an interim basis; next year, I’ll continue in that role officially. (Linda Braun interviewed me last summer, before I started acting as librarian.) Therefore, I have two titles under my name! Though I wear two hats, the lines are certainly very blurry between these roles. I am in a unique position because my education and experience allowed me to fit easily into the librarian position; had that not been the case, the academic technology coordinator position would not have replaced the librarian role at my school—and it still hasn’t, since I retain both titles.
I am lucky to have always worked in independent schools—I do not have certification as a school librarian or as a teacher, though I do have my MLS. In terms of how I marketed myself for my current position, I pulled together a digital portfolio of my work, with a focus on student outcomes. This was relatively simple, because as a school librarian I’d used many technology tools with my students. I was even able to highlight my work from the public library to show that I was comfortable using a variety of technology applications with teens. I think, too, that my genuine interest in being back in the classroom, and my ability to bring depth to the position helped.
Hamden Hall School, CT