Dear Dara: Why Don't We Stand Up for One Another?

Dear Dara,

At a recent conference, other librarians were talking about "bad" librarians losing their positions. However in some states, like mine, librarians who have been recognized at the state and national levels for their good work are losing their positions. These conversations are hurtful and feel like bullying. I don't want to be a bystander. I want to speak up for friends who have lost their positions due to the extreme cuts in our states. Yet, I don't want to embarrass people by using some of the specific exceptional people I know who have had their jobs cut as examples. Any suggestions on how to respond?


Bully Bystander

Dear Bully Bystander,

I am thoroughly amazed witnessing how some adults act, especially when as educators we are supposed to be role models. Unfortunately, we are all human and sometimes emotions get the best of us. Let's dissect the situation and give benefit of doubt to the "bully" librarians.

I have worked for a long time in this profession and I have seen my share of ineffective professionals that barely meet the standards to be called professionals. School librarianship has dramatically transformed over the last few decades and we all need to step up. First, it is not okay to maintain your current skill sets if you went to library school in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or even the last decade. We must be better than that and every librarian who remains stuck in the decade they finished their masters degree makes a negative impact on the profession. It is our responsibility as school librarians to continually learn and grow. We must increase our knowledge with the times and develop skills that are desirable in the future, especially if we are going to step up as an instructional leader. If we are teaching teachers and teaching students, we need to be a couple of steps ahead of everyone else.

What does that look like for the average librarian? It means staying abreast of current literature, being actively engaged in the profession, and taking every workshop and learning opportunity available to us. It also means mastering new skills and not being fearful of emerging technologies. We must challenge ourselves to embrace change, which is not as simple as it sounds! It is our responsibility to step up or move over for the next generation of professionals.

Sadly, our profession has taken a lot of abuse over the last few years. Cuts have been dramatic and severe. School libraries have been shuttered across the country. With that said, we have no choice but to put our best foot forward. The world of educators and administrators are looking at us and if we do not perform well, I fear we will become extinct. As such, we all need to be actively involved and cognizant of the messages we are putting out there. School libraries are essential and without librarians they are just stagnant book rooms with yellowing books collecting dust.

My personal experience with bullies is that they typically bully because of their own insecurities and fears. If that is the case, let's approach these individuals with kindness and help them understand the dangers of their behavior and words. As a profession, we honestly all need to stand together and put our best feet forward. Our message should be clear, succinct, and convincing. We definitely should not be fighting amongst ourselves.

Rally the exceptional librarians to remain involved in the profession. Encourage them to use their experiences and voices to motivate and empower. For those that are talking negatively about their peers and behind people's back, I hope they have the skill sets to excel in their jobs and protect their positions for the sanctity of our profession. Otherwise, we are all going to be in trouble.



Looking for Advice?

Dear Dara is School Library Connection's monthly, anonymous advice column for school librarians who find themselves in a pickle, at a crossroads, or at the end of their rope.

If you need some friendly advice in navigating a thorny problem, a sounding board, or even just to vent, send your questions to Dara anonymously via the form here

About the Author

Dara is the pen name of SLC's expert librarian advisor. Although choosing to remain anonymous in order to foster open and honest discussion of sensitive issues, she has a master's in library science and more than ten years working in and advocating for school libraries.

MLA Citation Dara. "Dear Dara: Why Don't We Stand Up for One Another?" School Library Connection, February 2020,

View all citation styles

Entry ID: 2241837

Back to Top