Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Rush of a New School Year

Parking lots and streets were overflowing as "Meet your Teacher" events were scheduled this evening at local elementary schools. If you are a school librarian, one of your goals for today was to get something on the bulletin boards before the crowds descended. Bulletin boards are hard. The expanse has to be covered and there are all those letters to cut.

I am re-crafting a post from a year ago with some thoughts for school librarians as the new year begins.

First the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations:

1. Do your students look forward to their time in the library?

2. Do you interact with your students while they look for books? This means you have to leave the check-out desk. (I know, this is hard if you do not have a library aide or volunteers.)

If I'm asked for advice, I like to walk the shelves with the kids and point out titles they might consider. Often, children just want some attention from an adult (in addition to your excellent booktalking) so this is time well spent.

3. Do you learn your students interests and reading strengths? They love it when someone takes a personal interest. Parents love it too. A parent asked me, once, if I knew what every child on my campus liked to read. I could honestly answer, "not every child, but I'm working on it."

4. Do your students recognize you in the hall? Do they know your name? Do you recognize them in the hall and do you know their names?

5. Is the library part of the "welcome to your new school tour?"

6. Do parents hear about the "very cool" things you are doing in the library from their kids?

7. Does your administration hear about the "very cool" things you are doing in the library from you?

8. Do you take the opportunity to speak to the PTA or other parent groups at your campus about your program? They always need speakers. Volunteer!
If the PTA or PTO paid for you to attend a workshop or conference, give them a report and send a thank you note. They may fund your efforts again if you do.

9. Are you proactive in spreading the word about the importance of school libraries? Too often budget cutters think eliminating or cutting back on library programs is a valid way to cut costs. Share the research on the impact school libraries have on test scores.

I've never know a principal who did NOT care about state assessment testing results or who thought their school rating was too HIGH. School libraries improve test scores.

10. Does the library have a presence on the school website? Do you contribute to the school newsletter regularly? These are PR opportunities.

11. Do you read the books so you can booktalk at the drop of a hat with passion and enthusiasm to students, parents and teachers?

12. Do your teachers rely on you for recommendations and support in the classroom?

Phew! Tired yet?

Now, in addition to all that:

You must:
1. Understand your automation system
2. Answer reference questions
3. Plan lessons that engage, teach and fire the imagination
4. Catalog your collection
5. Plan book fairs and reading celebrations
6. Order light bulbs for the overhead projectors.
7. You may also be the sponsor for a student group or mentor a child or provide bef0re school/after school tutoring.

I salute the librarians who work so hard to teach important research skills, stoke young people's imaginations and instill a love of books and reading in their students.

Your joy and passion for your job is contagious.

But, this year, remember:

There are only so many hours in the day.
Try to leave on time or close to it.
Enjoy and take care of your family.

Have fun and a wonderful school year.

Clip art from School of Library Science, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX


Anonymous said...

Great check list! Am going to point my librarian frinds your way!!
Are you coming to the conference?

Anonymous said...

Great check list! Am going to point my librarian frinds your way!!
Are you coming to the conference?

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Thank you for the great reminders!