Middle School Monday: Saying Goodbye to Middle School
I’ve been a middle school librarian for the past 18 years. A week from Friday will be my last day. It’s kind of difficult to wrap my mind around it, but I’m actually leaving schools to be a youth services librarian in a public library. I’m really excited for this new adventure, but it is bittersweet to me. You see, I’m one of those weird individuals who really enjoys middle school students. I’ve always felt like those of us who enjoy them have an obligation to work with them. We have a good number of college students who come to our school to fulfill their volunteering requirements for their early courses in education. I would estimate that about 90% of them express a preference for either elementary or high school work for their future. Very few express a preference for middle school. It’s almost like an underground society. We can pick each other out from a crowd. We should have a code word and handshake. But I’m leaving it behind.
I’m also leaving behind a state that has become increasingly hostile (at least legislatively) to public schools and the people who work in them. Over the past 21 years (I did my first three as an elementary librarian) I have seen my state systematically dismantle almost every bit of progress they had worked so hard to put in place. When I started, we were proud to have reached the middle of the rankings in teacher pay. We have rapidly descended to the bottom. The small class sizes we used to boast about have grown…and grown…and grown again. Teaching assistants for the elementary grades have been cut. The formulas used to determine how many certified support personnel will be assigned to a school have been altered to squeeze money out of every position. I would be more bitter, but I have had the great good fortune to be allowed to do a job I love with students I enjoy. Mostly, I’m just saddened by how little we value our most essential resource – our children. In an age where formulas to determine the number of prison beds that will be needed in the future rely heavily upon statistics of third grade students failing, you’d think there would be more of an effort to reverse the situation.
But, oh, I am so looking forward to the variety of patrons I’ll get to work with in my new position. I love babies, and toddlers, and preschoolers. Okay, who am I kidding? I love all children. I’m excited for all the new things I’ll be learning, the new area I’ll be serving, and the people I’ll be working with. I’ve never worked in a library where the mission of the organization was the library. Also, the library system I’ll be working for is very progressive and has a history of being on the leading edge of library service. This is going to be an exciting time for me (I’m also excited that this new position will place me within easy distance of family – an added bonus.)
So what will happen here? You’ll have to wait and see – we still haven’t decided the exact direction this space will take. Never fear, though, I’ll still be around writing book reviews, freaking out over meeting my favorite authors, and bringing you Friday Finds. This blog has been one of the brightest spots in my life for the past couple of years, and I would never willingly give it up. Both the experiences I’ve been able to have because of it, as well as the friendships I’ve made with my co-bloggers, have enriched my life immeasurably.
Filed under: Middle School Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
SLJ Blog Network