Be brave before perfect
My colleague, teacher librarian Traci Chun, coined this phrase as a means to empower her colleagues. The motto is intended to empower librarians to release responsibility for perfection and to embrace risk-taking and professional stretches as educators. Chun is a full-time high school teacher librarian and also serves as a teacher librarian lead, working closely with me to support and develop our teacher librarians. Currently, she and I are promoting tools and strategies for librarians to offer more making opportunities in our libraries. This year, we gave away bags of Legos and Makey Makey kits, promoted Hummingbird robots, and rolled out Sphero classroom kits to every library in the district. Some of our teacher librarians are embracing students as creators and promoting making in the library. And some are still uncertain. But all of them know that we are learning together, risks are okay, and perfection is less important than iteration.

Don’t lose sight of That Kid
I recently wrote an article examining the challenge of personalized learning, a familiar item on strategic plans and edtech marketing brochures. As we embrace data-driven learning, learner dashboards, and district scorecards, we cannot lose the trees for the forest. “That Kid” represents the uniqueness and specificity of each student in our school, especially those trees who are overlooked, a different variety, or shaped differently from the others. A Future Ready Librarian recognizes that the library has always been about equity, fairness, and opportunities for every child. That Kid may need a book, a wireless hotspot, or simply a safe place to be whomever they are. Future Ready Librarians look out for That Kid.

Embrace connection development
If I had a tattoo, it would read, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” After 25 years in education, I have learned that I am only as good as those around me, whether they are in my office or part of my LinkedIn feed. Recognizing and embracing the library and librarian as the hub and core of a school, I have been advocating #connectiondevelopment. Historically, librarians have been responsible for collection development, the curation of a library collection to support the learning needs of students. In addition to connecting a child to the right book, Future Ready Librarians cultivate, maintain, and leverage networks and relationships for the benefit of students, teachers, and administrators. Future Ready Librarians can and should be what Malcolm Gladwell describes as connectors, a social equivalent of a computer network.

Are you a Future Ready Librarian?

More stories of success
VPS is not alone in leveraging Future Ready Librarians to empower change and innovation. Thanks to Project Connect, dozens of case studies and leadership profiles further document Future Ready Librarian success stories and lessons learned from around the U.S. You can see those encouraging stories here.

About the Author:

Mark Ray is director of innovation and library services for Vancouver (WA) Public Schools and Future Ready Librarians Lead.