Networks for School Library Staff – Part 2 in the Professional Learning Series
Networking is an important part of professional learning (and let’s face it, often de-stressing) for any professional. However, many school library staff work in isolation. They might be the only school library team staff member, or perhaps if they are lucky to work in a team, the only teacher librarian or library technician at the school. Whether working in a large team or by yourself, it is important to connect with others. Not only for inspiration and ideas gathering but for those casual chats, those moments of shared understanding that only another library staff member would understand (like, yes of course you found that item being used as a bookmark, or of course you are run off your feet as the library is the busiest place in the school!).
So, if you can’t connect with colleagues within your school on a day-to-day basis, or want to connect in a much wider manner, how do you go about it? I use a variety of networks to connect with other school library staff – locally, nationally and from around the world.
I covered Twitter in part 1 of this series, which you can read here. There are of course many Facebook groups you can connect with and join. I don’t use Facebook much, but there are a few groups I connect with.
Sign up for this email list https://oztlnet.com/ School librarians connect via email each day, sending book list requests, Clickview requests, sharing information and ideas.
School Libraries List
With a focus on advocacy for school libraries, the School Libraries email list is for people actively involved in the Students Need School Libraries campaign. You can sign up here.
With an international focus and membership from around the world, LM_NET is a great email list to join (though my school email firewall continually blocks the emails). More information here.
ALIA has a massive range of email lists, each with particular focus. Browse the lists here.
State Library Organisations or Education System
Each state library organisation or state education system often has their own email list for state-based discussions, so check your state’s website for more information.
Local Librarian Network
You local area probably has a teacher librarian or school librarian network. Check with your state library organisation for local networks or reach out and ask a fellow local teacher librarian. I know our local network isn’t listed on the state network list, but it is a thriving network. To join, I just asked for the name of the person who monitors the group and reached out via email. While it is a teacher librarian network, it isn’t exclusive and the group has been hugely welcoming, regardless of my role/s. We have meetings once a term and moved to teleconferencing during COVID. If you can’t find a local network, check with your state sector (Catholic, etc) or create one.
When and How
The handy things about networks are the set times that are often allocated to these groups. Whether it is a face-to-face meeting once a term or an email digest that arrives in your inbox each day to which I give a 2 minute read through, networks can be a quick and easy way to update and stay connected each day. And they are just when you need something or someone to help. Sometimes I don’t have time to read through everything, but I can flag and follow up points that are really interesting. Connecting with local, national or international librarians can help you problem solve, find the specific resources you need or provide inspiration. Connecting locally can also help you pool resources and achieve things you couldn’t do alone.
When you are connecting and strengthening your networks, also think outside the library bubble. STEM professionals, booksellers, publishers, leaders, crafters all form part of my network and offer fantastic perspectives that bring something to my library practice.
Who is part of your network? Share your ideas and practices in the comments below.
Join me next time for the 3 part in this Professional Learning Series – Publications.