“If you build it, they will come.” If you’ve ever seen Kevin Costner’s movie Field of Dreams, you know what I’m talking about. I have to explain myself now because the reference is probably considered “retro” by many members of both my professional and private circle. For those of you who are lost, have no fear, I am completely finished making baseball allusions. I’ve probably topped out my knowledge base in that area, and am referring to building this blog as my most recent field of dreams anyway. Whew! Aren’t we all relieved to hear that. We didn’t tune into the wrong channel after all.
I have taken many “risks” over my eighteen year experience as a school library media specialist. I was in on probably one of my state’s first wireless computer lab concepts. I remember when FRED mail was the only e-mail and all my library buddies in South Carolina thought they were too cool for school. I remember having to swap out 5 -1/4 floppy disks so kids could take Accelerated Reader tests. My first school district may well have been one of only a handful in South Carolina to use Macs in the mid-1990s. I was trained as a container administrator for my school’s LAN. I had to teach the teachers how to save to a drive they couldn’t see or visit in person. Cloud computing was just a fantasy except perhaps in the minds of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and their contemporaries. Now you can get terabyte storage in Dropbox. In the past two years, I have begun “tweeting”; I know what hashtags are and can employ them semi-successfully; I figured out how to set up an educational Facebook page so parents and others could LIKE me instead of friend me, thus getting information without sharing their favorite words of wisdom or Aunt Janie’s chess pie recipe or worrying that I might see them in unflattering pictures their friends tagged them in. I have taught literally thousands of children about internet safety, ethical use of information, and how to navigate what is becoming an overwhelming and frequently fraudulent knowledge base that I can never hope to police and definitely cannot weed. I have clued them in to cyber bullying, setting security parameters, and using cell phones for good instead of evil.
Now, my new field of dreams. I am officially expanding from my 140 character Twitter limit @SamsLitCafe and broadening my horizons to hopefully becoming a contributing member of the School Librarian Blog-o-Sphere. This move is fraught with worries, questions, and an unending amount of what is sometimes surely going to be comic material. Perhaps that is why my first blog post is coming to light at nearly 3 AM after hours of tossing, turning, and wondering what I should write first or if I should bother. After all, it is going to be hard to come close to the quality and character of writing I find in some of my favorite blogs by some of my field’s more influential and charismatic leaders. They frequently make me feel like I am just not doing enough. They are bringing the circus to town while I am frequently following behind, collecting bits of confetti. But I have decided I am going to try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. After all, I do have 24 likes on my library Facebook page and have 68 followers on Twitter. Some of them are even people I don’t know! Progress, right? I have even taken the advice of one of my all-time-favorite library heroes and friends Cathy Nelson and worked on building my brand. Yes, it is SamsLitCafe, and it may not pack a knock-out punch, but it is a perfect fit for me and I like it.
As to why blog now, on a Tuesday morning, at 3 AM. That would be thanks to one of my best school buds. She is our instructional coach, and also frequently a partner in crime, but that will emerge in blog posts to come. She pushes me and challenges me beyond anything I thought possible and I can truly say she has been instrumental in my professional growth over the past two years. Yesterday she sent me yet another link to yet another blog post that immediately made me want to stretch myself yet again. I knew it was a professional growth opportunity and not an insanity break because it wasn’t about cats or kittens, which are our fall back, I-need-a-time-out, shares. This little honey was from Stacked and the post was entitled “Show Me the Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion“. Wow! If you are a school librarian, you know we may have many skills and talents, but we really do stink at letting anyone know about it. Here was my chance on a silver platter! I love to write, I love sharing my opinion with hopeless and hapless strangers, and here is my chance to do so on a famous blog! Double wow! So, I thought about the topic of promotion and the activities I’ve worked on this year, and decided that yes, indeed, I could actually come up with something semi-literate in the self-promotion, self-awareness venue. I then clicked on the Google form to sign up. I was zipping along fabulously, committing to writing a post, adding my Twitter handle, and then “bam”, “What’s your blog URL?” Hmmm… Now, no worries for most, there is actually an out. You can write a blog post for “30 Days of Awesome” as a guest blogger. That’s great. But for me, this “What’s your blog URL?” was a personal challenge. A clarion call. I love reading other people’s blogs, I glean so much from what they do and say. They are using blogs to share with people in their school districts, their states, nationwide, worldwide, across time and space. They have something to say that I want to hear, and maybe, just maybe, if I have enough to say about self-promotion as a school library media specialist then perhaps I have a few bits of knowledge others may learn from and want to use. So, here goes. We’ll see what the future brings. I have now officially entered the School Librarian Blog-o-Sphere. I made that up by the way, you probably won’t be able to Google “School Librarian Blog-o-Sphere” and find all of us librarians in one spot. We’re too stealthy for that.