The problem with ‘Raising the Profile’

‘We must do everything and take every opportunity to raise the profile of what we do.’

I think I’ve heard that quote or variations of it too many times over the last couple of years. So many times that the little meaning it originally had has long since withered away into obscurity.

The phrase itself in school library circles has come to be a catch all phrase for simply shouting to anyone that will listen that school librarians are great, do a fantastic job and are really worthwhile. In reality it isn’t actually anything about any substance as it’s just words.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the slap in the face that is reality is that there are just as many rubbish school librarians as there are good ones, just as many rubbish school libraries and equally as many good school librarians having no impact in their school.

Words can become not only very tiresome after a while but when repeated over and over to the same chorus they can also become just as much of a negative as they were a positive in the beginning. It doesn’t matter how many times you say white is black it’s still white and the only thing you’ve achieved is ridicule in yourself and any further comments you make.

Raising the profile isn’t and shouldn’t be about words. It should be by actions. Actions do speak louder than words (hence why it’s such a famous quote) if you want someone to see the benefit in something you need to show them categorical proof that that is the case. Empty words won’t win them over proof and action will.
No one will believe the England football team will ever win anything just because someone says they’re capable. We’ll believe it when we see it happen. It’s the same with school libraries. Don’t spend your time talking a good game, actually do something worthwhile. Change something, improve something, have a positive impact on something then people will listen, then people will have bigger expectations of you, will view you as more important.

The behaviour doesn’t come before the action it’s the action that comes first and then the behaviour after. Show the importance of a school library and your profile will be raised.

But most importantly remember: you shouldn’t be doing anything to raise your profile you should be doing it because it has a value to someone else. A raised profile is an added bonus not a main priority.