Money Isn't Everything

Group of fourth grade children gathered in library with hideous orange carpet, looking at books and searching the shelves.
You don't become an elementary school librarian - at least in my town - because you want to make money. You do it for the love of kids and the love of books and the peculiar joy that comes from connecting just the right kid with just the right book. The teachers make a lot more money than we elementary librarians, because we are not certified teachers, and they are. Some districts require their librarians to have certain degrees; ours, as a cost-saving measure, does not. If we aren't certified, they don't have to pay us as much. That being said, we manage to have a group of very excellent, dedicated 'library media associates' (our official title), and people who don't love it and aren't good at it, don't stay long. To do the job I love, I definitely sacrifice the opportunity to make a lot more money somewhere else. My husband has noticed.

If you were a fly on the wall at my house, at least once a month you'd hear a conversation that goes something like this:

    Me: 'Well, we can't afford that.'

    Husband: 'I keep telling you to go get your teaching certificate, then you'd be making twice as much.'

    Me: 'But I don't want to be a classroom teacher. I love my job.'

    Husband: 'It's practically the same thing!'

No, dear husband, it is not. As the school librarian, I am like the grandma of the school. I get the very best of the kids. Most of them love coming to library, and I get a lot less negative behaviors because of that. They come in, I read to them, teach them something about libraries and literature, connect them with books they will love, and then send them home to 'mom.' That's not to say I don't ever have to deal with negative behaviors and surly kids, but I get a lot less of it than the classroom teachers do. I don't have to make lesson plans unless I have a sub. I don't have to grade papers. And when there are no kids in the library I work with the books. Crafting a balanced and well-used library collection is no small task, and I'm dedicated to making it happen.

I feel very fortunate that I'm able to do what I do without a teaching degree or a Master of Library Science. Personally, I would love to get an MLS. I'm all about continuing education, but another peculiarity of our district is that getting the degree will not earn me a penny more in my current position. And they don't give out Master's degrees for free, so if it's not going to help me make more money, I can't see spending time and money that I don't have to do it.

I'd love to make more money. Who wouldn't? But the fact is, adults spend most of our waking hours at our jobs. Loving that job makes it so much easier to get up and go to work in the morning, especially when it's February, and it's getting lighter, but it's still wicked cold and it feels like winter will never end. I get to come every day to this oasis of books and children and learning and it brightens my world. I know it's important to make a living, but even more important is making a life that you enjoy living. My job brings me that.


  1. I know these feelings too well--I've relied on my family's help my entire adult life, in order to keep writing. I love that description of brightening your world.

  2. I love your passion and dedication to a job that doesn't get the recognition it deserves. What a blessing and gift you are to your school.


Post a Comment