A Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian – Summer Holidays
It has been my goal for some time now to share what my role as a teacher librarian is comprised of in the day in, day out. I hope that it shares some light into what can sometimes be a mysterious and unknown role to those outside libraries. I hope it might inspire someone to enter the world of school libraries as I was once enticed. And I hope it encourages others in the school library world to share their experiences. Of course, my role and experiences are unique and would differ if I was in a different country, state, school, library setting or role, and the joy of library work is that no one day, library, role or experience is ever the same. I may post once a month about this, but far more likely I will put fingers to keyboard once a term. If you would like to read all of the posts in the series, you’ll find them here.
It will come as no surprise to school staff that teachers and school staff work during their holidays. But something that I hear from people outside the world of schools is how great it must be to have all that time off. And, yes. It is great. But as my curriculum leader calls it, holidays are often more like non-contact time, and for those outside of the industry, that means we work on planning, unit and lesson writing, marking, reporting, scheduling and a range of other tasks as teachers, and as librarians, you might as well triple that to-do list.
So, as a teacher librarian entering a year of full-time work in a school library, here’s how I spent my summer holidays.
Yes, okay, you would have guessed this because the follow up response to telling someone you are a librarian is how great it is to read all day, right? Of course, I don’t get much reading done in the school term, certainly never during the school day and only sometimes in the evenings and early mornings if I have time between the tasks that spill out of school hours or when can manage to keep my eyes open. So, holidays allows me that time to catch up on my reading and reviewing. As a professional reader, I’m always reading books that are yet to be released, so it’s a great chance to see what books need to be on our purchasing list and what’s going to be big and trending in a few months. It is also a great time to relax a little.
I also always take home a stack of books from the library. However, I am absolutely terrible at actually following through and reading them and usually have to carry them all back in to the library unread! This year I was determined to do better, and out of this stack I managed to read four books. Yay!!
Along with planning lessons and units for my timetabled classes, library classes and research sessions, I spend a lot of time during the summer holiday break planning for the year ahead. This year I created a plan for our collection management. I want to audit, weed and update each section of the collection and I know the only way I’ll get that done during each busy term is to create a thorough to-do list. This list is broken down into tasks, week-by-week and hopefully that is enough to keep getting done these jobs that are so easy to lose track of during the term.
You may have seen me share a few posts about our library’s presence on the school website. It was our team’s plan to create a library blog and get a good presence on the school website. I had set the ground work for this at the end of the last year and I spent some time during the holidays designing and building these websites and pages.
Updating our digital library
We use a library management system that enables us to build landing pages and information pages for our students. This gives us great flexibility and range for creating OPACs, portal homepages, research pages and information pages. In our system these are called LibPaths and if you follow me on social media you’ll hear me talk about LibPaths A LOT!! Like a lot, a lot. I like them. You might have them in your school under the guise of LearnPaths or LibGuides. I really wanted to update our opac, create a new opac that featured books and links especially for secondary students and highlight our research, reading and maker programs. I created 5 new pages, including the landing page, and featured new books and links to our other platforms. I hope this redesign makes it easy for students to navigate their way through our digital library.
Another thing on my to-do list during the holiday break was to go through my allocated budget, check what had already been spent or allocated for subscriptions and work through the remaining funds. I updated my budget spreadsheet and planned how I will use the remaining funds to try and cover the many other needs of the school library collection, space and event calendar.
Displays and Instagram Post Plan
I do my best creative work in my own space and own time, so a habit I started many years ago was to plan library displays during the summer break. I went into lots of detail about how I do this in this post about planning library displays.
I also spend a bit of time listing my goals for the school year ahead and writing thorough to-do lists for what I wanted to achieve and when.
I hope this work sets us up for a smooth start to the year. I’m really looking forward to what we have planned.