Lady GaGa Librarians Unite!

I was asked recently for a quote by a N.Y. Times editor for their opinion page: Here's the question: "School librarians are on the chopping block as states and cities seek to cut their education budgets. Do superintendents and principals see librarians as more expendable than other school employees? If so, why?" Here's my response:

"From the Daring Librarian to Teacher Librarians everywhere with love, albeit tough love - but full on love! Times are tough all over for education. Superintendents and administrators are making some hard financial decisions. Any position that does not have constant student interaction, testing expectations, and direct grading is vulnerable. Librarians and school libraries are at a crossroads. This is one of the most exciting times to be a teacher-librarian in our country and is also the scariest. A revolution is at hand, and we need to be nimble, daring, digital and shift both our practice and the way the world thinks of school librarians and libraries.
Some revolutions compel you throw everything out. This revolution is easy...keep what you love but just make a shift. Seth Godin recently said “A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher.” I like that metaphor it resonates with me! We NOT expendable because we are guiding the minds of our students to lead them to become life-long learners, curious searchers, and good digital citizens. Librarians must teach Google ed and social media ed because we know kids are gonna connect and create online, better they do it with knowledge, discernment, responsibility, & ethics. We must shift our language, adding words like attribution, tagging, widget, Creative Commons, transliteracy, and authority.
"I've always been famous, it's just no one knew it yet."
Lady Gaga
Shift perception! We need to be more like Lady GaGa than Lady Bird Johnson. We need to establish a clear, pervasive, vibrant, and involved presence in their school, community, and on the web. The more visible librarians are the less likely that they’ll be taken away. Those teacher librarians who are hiding their brilliant programs under a bushel, that’s when they’re most likely to get cut. We need to stay positive, be proactive, and always be professional!"

Why Lady GaGa?
She loves her "little monsters" and so do we! She has style & doesn't apologize! She doesn't ask for permission - I bet she doesn't even ever say she's sorry (I do, though!....on rare occasion!) She is innovative, a risk-taker, a change agent, an early adopter and dag she's COOL! She also is all about self-empowerment! And I'm SO not saying that we all need to start wearing meat gowns or Steve McQueen sky high pumps...but to paraphrase my mentor & super hero Dr. Joyce Valenza...We need to step up our game, get fierce, throw off the pumpkin sweaters and be damn awesome at our jobs & fight the good fight! They got the library in Alexandria, they're not getting mine! Booya!

One last thought - I really like the idea of us Teacher Librarians and Geek Tribers creating some kind of hand gang sign! More like the monster claw than the Nancy Pearl Shushing action! Any ideas peeps!? If you think of one - take a pic & either post it in comments or email me!

"‎Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses, cuz we were born this way b**ch!"
Lady Gaga

"I just I felt like a freak, I guess what I'm trying to say is
I want to liberate them, I want to free them of their fears and make them feel that they can create their own space in the world"
Lady Gaga

Q. What can a librarian do
without admin & staff support?

A. Not much!

I'd like to thank my principal Dr. Donyall Dickey who has been amazingly supportive & encouraging these past 4 years – I have grown SO much under his inspiring leadership. He has given me the opportunity to do some cutting edge things in our Library Media Center with mobile media (QR Codes & iPods touches, etc.), joined me in expanding our Social Media web presence, and allowed me to be on the ISTE Board of Directors & represent our school and district presenting out of state.
I’d also like to thank Mrs. Carol Fritts my district supervisor and friend who is officially the Coordinator of Career and Technology Education and Library Media. Carol has for many years supported cheered me on – giving me opportunities to represent HCPSS and the state of Maryland. Thank you so much Carol! my AWEsome MHMS staff: I can't do anything without a great staff of teachers who try new things, are open to new technologies because really, it's the hardworking classroom teacher who makes all the difference!
"I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There's no stopping."
Lady Gaga
Since the NY Times article was only a taste & not a treatise of what I think & believe check out this recent more -in-depth (but still delightfully shallow!) interview by the amazing M.E. Steel-Pierce!

How Teacher Librarians Can Save the World (and maybe their jobs) Posted by M.E. Steele-Pierce
I also would like to thank of the Washington Post for picking up this article!
Librarians the Edge of Glory!
Images via WENN and Perez Hilton
GaGa Daily


  1. You are awesome and your response is right on point. Keep doing what you're doing and we'll see you at ISTE!

  2. Well said. We also need to consider using the term "librarian"(as you did here) instead of "media coordinator." We actually had a state person look at our district list of employees and ask why we had so many PR people. They mistakenly thought that the "media coordinator" at each school was a public relations rep! Let's call things what they are so we can all focus on doing a great job.

  3. Wait, did you really include this whole Lady Gaga nonsense in your response to the New York Times? May I ask WHY--when you are in a position that can speak for so many librarians--you would refer to LADY GAGA for inspiration? Seth Godin's quote is on point, but it is missing one important aspect of librarianship. Librarians are THOUGHT LEADERS and should break a new path of leadership. They are not thought followers, and have no need to follow a pop culture icon or relate themselves to someone with motivations related to commercial value--which is far from the values of access and preservation of information.

  4. Gloria, I'm just one gal with a blog. I've got opinions and I'm glad you have yours. To quote the fine cinema masterpiece Roadhouse "opinions vary" but I do wholeheartedly agree with you that we are thought leaders, and I think Lady GaGa rocks. Lady GaGa is NOT a follower she's a leader and staying on point with pop culture keeps us relevant to our customers...our kids. Don't hate, appreciate. But srsly, I respect your right to disagree with my premiss.
    -- know I was with you on that!...I was a media specialist then AASL and ALA reclassified us as school librarians. So, like Joyce Valenza, I go by teacher-librarian.
    B.C. Thanks hon! Make sure to come & get a hug! Cheers! G$

  5. I got the Lady Gaga reference in the Times piece and I thought it was spot on. Nice work.

  6. Great response. Lady Gaga is a public image master and we can learn from that. She spreads a message of self empowerment, something we all need to be reminded of. I love my students, my job, technology and books. I can't help it. I was Born This Way:)

  7. The librarian is the essential tool of the autodidact.
    Liberians don’t to the work for us but they point us in the right direction.
    When we are young they start us on the path to self-education; when we are older they help us access the resources that continue our education.
    Liberians are among the most effective and least intrusive of resources. They teach us to swim in the ocean of information that we must learn to navigate in the information age. Edmond Chibeau.

    1. I know, it is spelled, "librarian" and one should read "do" for to in line 2.

  8. Some Anonymous DudeJune 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Great response in today's Times, and great blog--I'm just discovering it today through a link from there.

    Thing about Seth, by the way: he'd approve of the Lady Gaga reference. This is one of the world's leading gurus on marketing, self-re-invention, and the guy who wrote "Purple Cow," for crying out loud! And if you guys don't need a purple cow, then I don't know who does. Keep it up.

  9. How nice to read an inspiring piece on the value of school librarians! It was exactly what I needed to motivate me to head in tomorrow and get some work done, despite the forecast of 77 degrees and sunny... Who says teacher-librarians have the summer off?

    Keep up the good work :)

  10. Way to go, G! Thanks for making a comparison to Lady Gaga, too ;)

  11. I disagree with you on the Lady Gaga comparison. Given the two options, I'd say we should be more like Lady Bird Johnson and less like Lady Gaga:

    But I'm a fan of Roadhouse too ("Pain don't hurt"), and I'm cool with agreeing to disagree.

  12. Tamara, dear Eliterate Librarian - thank you for your kind get it! Yes, La GaGa's self-empowerment message is spot on! I also was "Born This Way!" Let's throw off those pumpkin sweaters and be fierce!

    Danielle - Ahh my dear amazing talented quirky former student teacher who has taught me SO much & been a constant inspiration! Thank you sweetie!

    Dear Alex - aka GuyLibrarian or Dedalusmess that's cool dude! We can agree to disagree - I'm honored to get you "simmering" there's something shallow in me that likes to piss people off & get them talking. Hard to get really deep when you're only given 300 words. So, again, "opinions vary" [grins] Of course, Shawn of the Dead, A Few Good Men, & Ghostbusters also have some great quotes. The bubble bursts here. Oh and I like your music.

  13. My college Amazon account! I rue the day. Yeah, your editorial was good. It got me thinking and writing, which I love, because I often have nothing interesting to say. Because of the space constraints, editorials seem to be more abstract. So what practical ways do you think librarians can be "nimble, daring, [and] digital"?

  14. Alex, my droog! This is fun! Thank you for that sort of apology [grins] probably! But I'll totally give ya that you're a better technical writer for sure! My art is my conversational tone, my graphics, & ability to stir some stuff up!

    But posting my pic on your blog with your barely disguised disdain dripping from every quote?...Really? LOVED IT! Controversy thrills me! As for how librarians can be nimble daring, & digital?

    Check out this preso on my Slideshare - the NYT Op-Ed was the first 24 slides - slides 25-96 go into more detail. [winks] Whilst you're there check out the other presos like on QR Codes in the Library & Animation.

    Also, feel free to check out both my Daring Tech Steam Wiki & MHMS Learning Wiki to see the actual things I'm producing and giving away Creative Commons Share Alike to help TL's be daring, nimble, & digital!

    All in all dude, you're smart as a whip, snarky, & fun...and I liked your college era Amazon profile!... That's all part of what I've been preachin. Craft your own web presence with savvy....What happens when you Google yourself? Stuff that embarrasses you? Is it professional or out of date? I coulda quoted the "pank butch of a sult" (hilarious) line but I didn't [preens with mock virtue] I still can't tell if you're a school, public, or university librarian!
    Oh btw, I've been asked to be a featured speaker at WEMTA next year - it's gonna be a kick!

    You see a lot, Alex. "But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you - why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to." What do you do in your school or library that is promoting librarians and educators to be nimble, daring, & digital? (bonus points for movie quote w/o Googling!)

    Oh and before I forget?... Your Amazon reviews are brilliant.

  15. Nice job getting the signal boost from WaPo! And as a side note - my kids have been holding Lady Gaga and the Library Ladies with the same starry-eyed regard ever since they a.) heard "Poker Face" for the first time, and b.) realized that they read faster than their mother and that their best bet on finding a good book is through the snarky recommendations from their eminently cool and magnificently dressed Library Ladies. (God bless those women!)


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