CC image via

In the last two years, I’ve done a better job of tackling challenges with patience and optimism.  Every now and then, though, a tsunami of worry, frustration, and questioning crashes upon me (as I  know it does many of you, too), typically in the middle of the night.  Around 1:00 I literally woke up thinking about an array of fundamental educational issues that impact my work as a school librarian and The Unquiet Library program.

So for the last two hours now, I’ve been contemplating and worrying about problems with teacher-librarian collaboration and within grade levels/departments, public education in general, and the blinders that NCLB and Race to the Top have imposed/are putting on our ability to have a larger vision for learning and the purpose of schools beyond test scores.   I’m feeling a sudden and intense wave of impatience with piecemeal progress; I’m also sad and angry that as a profession (and by that, I mean educators in general), we have acquiesced to a vision of teaching and learning that ultimately has done more harm than good to students, teachers, and our communities.   Also worrisome: these concerns are not even on the radar of so many because they don’t perceive these problems exist.   This is one of those times I want a box of dynamite, not a plastic spoon, to move these mountains.

I’m sipping warm skim milk and thinking now about better ways to tackle these challenges; writing will come later out of these wee small hours of the morning.  Sometimes just articulating the worries, even in a short blog post or series of Tweets, is the first step to re-visualizing the problems and finding more effective solutions or at the very least, inviting conversations to help us think through these challenges together (yes, everyone has challenges!). Maybe I need to sleep with my superlibrarian cape on at night?

10 thoughts on “Wee Small Hours of the Morning Worries

  1. Hey Buffy, I’m glad that someone is worrying about education and libraries in the middle of the night. Together we librarians and educators can re shape the future!!! I too want some dynamite!!! Keep spooning away you are making a difference.


  2. You are so not alone. It makes me feel sick sometimes and I wonder how I can survive another year of possible budget cuts. It’s especially scary as I try to decide whether to go for an MLS or not.

    Buffy you are a true testament to the profession that you care so much. I wish there were more librarians like you!


  3. We need to win over parents – we need to make them see that, while Johnny is still getting gold stars, good grades and making the honor roll and Dean’s list and getting into a good college, he is not being prepared for a job. I spent the last 3 days with the extended family around a wedding. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with people in their 20s and 30s trying to explain Web search, Internet marketing, social media and new technologies that this generation is erroneously presumed to be fluent in. One of them graduated college last May and is waiting tables, with no prospects for a professional career; in my estimation, she needs 1-2 years of learning before she’ll be employable. When parents learn this is their kids’ destiny, they’ll begin to demand that schools stop teaching like it’s 1999.


  4. Buffy,
    You are an inspiration to me. This blog really hit home with me as a school librarian in NJ.
    However, even with all that we need to “overcome”, you still continue to persevere to elevate the average school librarian to something admirable.
    If you wonder who is stalking you in tweets (mediamama), etc. it is MOI…I hope to speak to you a bit at the NJASL on Friday about your kindle and media 21 project (and making it applicable for grades 3-6), if you have a minute to yourself. Unfortunately, Sat. my ride must leave after the breakfast so I am unable to attend your Sat. workshop. (I am recovering from a serious concussion, and am not able to drive long distances).
    My email is:

    Jennifer Jamison


    1. Jennifer:

      Thank you so much for your incredibly gracious note! I really appreciate the encouragement! Let’s definitely meet up and talk Friday in NJ—I am really looking forward to meeting you and am glad you are on the mend from the concussion! How about we meet up after the keynote on Friday? Let me know if that works for you!



  5. The piecemeal approach makes me crazy, too. I’m so afraid that we are leaving a whole generation of students behind (ironic, isn’t it) in terms of the skills they NEED for their future success. I truly believe that information skills and transliteracy should be a dedicated course offering. We would lose a lot in terms of collaboration, but it is just too important that students don’t miss out. I stated as much briefly here: Info Studies as a Course


  6. I call them a “midnight epiphany” when I wake in the middle of the night and worry about the state of the world; or just things left undone or forgotten. I am an Australian teacher librarian and employed by a private school that is reshaping its information and learning policies so that the library is central to the learning process. Not many schools are doing that, too many libraries have become mere computer labs.


  7. Glad to see I’m not the only one who occasionally stays up at night thinking about how to make things better. Always helps to remember we’re not alone–as you can see from the responses you’ve already received–and to remember that while dynamite does have its uses, it does tend to leave an even bigger mess to clean up after the initial wonderful blow-up. Sources of comfort: Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” which has nothing directly to do with libraries and training but everything to do with creating something worth happening (in this case, books) step by step; Peter Block’s “Community: The Structure of Belonging,” to remind us that we can be part of building the communities to which we want to belong; and Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” to remind us that our methods of reaching out to each other–as evidenced by your blog–have given us new ways to effect the changes we would love to see. And the bonus is that diving into any of these sources helps take our mind off those late-night worries while we’re actively engaged in seeking solutions. Thanks for the inspiring piece of writing. Now get some sleep! And don’t forget to ride that tsunami for all it’s worth.


    1. Hi Paul!

      Thank you so much for your words of support and encouragement as well as the recommended reads. You’ve helped me reframe these kinds of moment in a positive light, and I hope to have a blog post up soon on some reading I’m doing to to help me find new ways of implementing ideas without resorting to dynamite. 🙂

      I will definitely ride that tsunami for all it’s worth! Will you be at ALA Midwinter in San Diego?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s