I take umbrage at being called a media specialist. This puzzles the person who is speaking, because I am sure she thinks she is complimenting me by not calling me a librarian.Here’s the thing: I AM a librarian!
Those in my position have had numerous titles passed around as we try to define ourselves in a world that resists seeing us a modern, information-technology literate professionals. Yet those defining us wouldn’t want to offend us by calling us old-fashioned librarians, as that word connotes wire-rimmed glasses, bunned hair, and a spinsterly demeanor. But for me, the term “media specialist” connotes another negative image – a middle-aged woman in a jumper with sensible shoes pushing an AV cart or carefully mended a 16MM film. That’s not me. My library has not housed AV equipment for at least 15 years; And I don’t own a jumper!
Our profession has been caught in the conundrum of deciding on a name that actually defines us. The term media specialist evolved in the 70s when district level materials centers closed and librarians assumed this responsibility of cataloging, housing and integrating multimedia. Still, this is inadequate, and now often inaccurate, when describing our multi-faceted roles.
Proposed names have run the entire English language spectrum, it seems. Some prefer the term “teacher-librarian,” a title I have no problem with, since it does reaffirm that we are teachers first. I am a teacher first, then a librarian. Others don’t like this term, I suspect, because it does not acknowledge our role in information literacy and technology integration.
Some prefer the term “school library media specialist.” I don’t know why this term doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t. Probably because the term librarian is present. AASL has adopted the term “school librarian” as our formal title.
As for me, I have introduced myself as the “Goddess of All Information, Both Real and Imagined,” but generally speaking this moniker was ill-received. I found that it encompassed all my responsibilities rather nicely. But since folks don’t want to call me a goddess, I prefer that the call me something else that encompasses all of my responsibilities – a librarian.
I earned my MLIS when my kids were little, balancing a full-time and a part-time job, school and their dance classes. I spent countless hours thinking and rethinking about teaching to achieve National Board certification. And I put in 320 clock hours to become a Technology Integration Specialist even though real school librarians were technology integration specialists long before someone cleverly coined the term. I did all this to become what I am very proud to be:
An ALA card-holding LIBRARIAN. I don’t apologize and won’t let others condescend by calling me a “nicer” name.