LMS – What Does It Stand For?

Many of us proudly display the letters LMS after our names in our signatures…online and other.

For you…what do those letters stand for?

LMS =  Library Media Specialist







©Nash Ford Publishing

LMS = Library Martyr Syndrome

All of us are proud (or should be) of those three letters. But in these days of budget cuts, many are experiencing the pain of losing our paraprofessionals, covering multiple libraries or both. As we cope with providing vital services to our students and faculty, we are in serious danger of falling prey to the Library Martyr Syndrome.

I posted the following on LM_NET this week

I did not see the issue of lunch and planning time mentioned frequently in [a recent discussion titled “No clerks/para in media centers”].  I am curious about regulations in that regard.  Surely every school is required by some sort of state employment regulation to provide a lunch break at least?  In our state, planning periods are part of the teacher association negotiations.  In my district, if assistants were to be dropped, the administration would be required to provide coverage so the librarians can have a duty-free lunch, along with six duty-free periods per week.  Whatever is in our contracts, we should make sure we USE what is OWED to us.  It is up to the administration to determine how the library is to function while we are at lunch or planning classes.  Their choices will be;assign another employee to cover the library if there is time in their schedule (unpopular choice and often contractually impossible);close and lock the library one or two periods per day;find the money to hire at least enough para time to cover the librarian’s lunch/ prep time.

I suspect that many librarians, in their very understandable concern for the children, will keep the library open through lunch and prep time.  We really need to resist that urge.  If the library is open and accessible all the time, first and foremost we will drive ourselves into the ground ruining both our health and our spirits.  Additionally, if we provide the same service and the library is always open, many will not notice a difference and decide that making that cut was a good idea.  I would strongly urge everyone in this situation to NOT be a martyr.  By all means, do the very best you can to prioritize and provide the most important services.  But make sure you USE the time that is OWED you by your contract for the purpose intended….lunch and prep time.  Keep your sanity and your health.  You cannot do the work of two or more people and survive.

God bless you all. I retired in June after 40 years as a librarian.  I have seen these job cut worries come and go, and pray that this too will pass. Remember how amazing you are, and how much you are needed. Keep healthy and weather the storm!

I was shocked that many who replied stated they have no rights in their schools. Can this possibly be true? Have teachers lost the most basic of rights – to have a meager half-hour  to eat lunch in peace?  I pray this is not case of  the dreaded “library martyr syndrome” and librarians are simply not taking advantage of their rights. They do a disservice to their students if this is the case. Why would administrators ever consider hiring back paraprofessionals when times get better?  Not to mention the health impact of running oneself ragged. As one person commented – this can be a PR nightmare – but surely people can understand the need to provide a lunch break? And if they can’t – should we worry about them?

Here are some comments I received:

It is indeed a sad state we are in, but one we must learn to work and live in.

I love my job, the kids, my Principal and my staff but I’m retiring at the end of this school year.  I’m tired.

It is a bit scary but I remain optimistic about what the future holds.  I truly feel like I will have something to offer as a librarian and cannot wait to work with the students.  Thanks for the encouragement. (from a librarian-to-be who was actually encouraged by my post!  I agree with her.  We are in a down cycle right now – but things WILL get better)

Labor laws require that employees receive breaks.  It speaks to safety and mental health.

Some of the descriptions I am hearing make me think of working conditions at that Chinese factory where they installed nets to catch the suicide victims because things are so bad.

You may go to heaven  quicker because you were a martyr, but only because you ruined your health in doing so.

I have not had an aide for 2 years and eat lunch ask me desk and get up to check out books/teach classes throughout my lunch.

Librarians were reclassified from “teacher” to “instructional support” … with nurses, social workers, guidance, etc.  I think this was a way to get around the issue of “teachers” having planning time and duty free lunch. However, when it comes to seeing children, many are forced to be a part of a fixed schedule with art, music, and PE – who are still “teachers.”  They get planning and duty free lunch – whereas I am expected to stay in the library and always have it open and available to everyone from 7:30 until 3:00 each day.  No matter what is left to do, I close up and walk out the door at 3:05 unless there is a meeting I am required to attend. I try to do all I can for our students, staff, and families from 7:15 until 3:00 each day – but sanity and self-preservation are important too.

Here is the entire response from Barbara Braxton – one of my all time library superheroes!

Thank you so much for reinforcing the point about taking what has been legally awarded (and, in cases, hard-won) as part of our employment conditions.

As you say, if [people think] that being martyrs and always putting the students first will change things, they are mistaken. Those who choose to make the cuts or not provide for those conditions to be met will assume that it is okay.Those who become martyrs do a disservice not only to themselves in terms of health and motivation, but also to their colleagues and the students.

Firstly, it is very easy for a principal to say, “Well, your predecessor did this, or the teacher librarian in the neighbouring school does this, so you will too,” thus denying you what you are entitled to. And, IMO, students need to learn that not everything and everyone is available on tap as and when it suits them! I really disagree with a 24/7 on-demand service because I don’t think it teaches them anything about time management and prioritising, which are essential skills in the workforce and general life. Even my five-year-old granddaughter is learning that she needs to organise herself, so IMO, if the library is not open 1-2 periods a day because the teacher librarian is availing herself of a lunch or bathroom break, then students (and staff) need to know that and sort their schedules accordingly.

You may go to heaven quicker because you were a martyr, but only because you ruined your health in doing so.

I wonder if busy administrators are even aware of  the sacrifices librarians make? What if librarians simply closed the library during lunch and planning time?


  • If you locked the library and went to the staff room for lunch – would your administrator really object?
  • Have you checked the details of your contract?
  • Have you enlisted the help of your union/association representatives?  We pay dues just like all the classroom teachers.  NOW is the time to collect on those dues.
  • Do you work in a “right to work” state? Get political!  Professionals need to have some protection!!
  • What classroom teacher would put up with such abuse?
  • Why should the librarians put up with indentured servitude?

I can understand that prep time might be more problematic.  Perhaps a different time could be taken each day, so that no one was closed out all week.

Remember – no one can help you if you are not willing to advocate for your own basic rights!! Please. Be kind to yourself. You DESERVE it!

5 thoughts on “LMS – What Does It Stand For?

  1. Great post, Jackie. Interesting to read “Librarians were reclassified from “teacher” to “instructional support” … with nurses, social workers, guidance, etc.”

    In Australia we are teacher librarians and must have teaching qualifications before we add the librarianship ones. If a person is hired with just librarianship quals, then under duty of care legislation, they cannot supervise students without themselves being supervised by someone with teaching quals. So legally, the library cannot be left open just in the care of a parapro.

    Because Australian teachers and TLs also undertake scheduled playground duty, the library can be open at lunchtime and recess with the TL taking their break at a different time to the rest of the staff, but, nevertheless, there are still many with LMS who make it tough for those who follow.

    IMO, if we are to be regarded as professionals, which is what we are with most having post-grad quals, then we need to demand that we be treated as such, and that includes at least one scheduled break a day (or wahtever your award says) and the right to use the bathroom when we need to, not because an administrator or a bell says we can.

  2. Yes..that was definitely a very interesting scenario.

    Many thanks for your insight. Your common sense and practical advice are always appreciated…and it is great to get the perspective from across the world!

  3. Pingback: Read this now: LMS – What Does It Stand For? « Y's Guide to useful info for school librarians

  4. Thanks Alice! This situation is incredible…but something I have seen too many times over the years. Hopefully reading this will stick with your pre-service librarians! Inam so glad you are sharing it with your students.

  5. I have had the interesting experience of subbing in several school libraries (in fact, I am sitting at your old post at this very moment).
    What is interesting to me is seeing how different districts value (or do not value)their librarians. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly!
    I always appreciate your optimism regarding the job outlook for the future. Their are many people who are very pessimistic and it can be disheartening to listen to them.

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