A Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian – Halfway Through Term 1

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 sheds 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. 

Term 1 has started, if a little differently from usual. Now, the students have returned and the busyness of the term has really started.

Library classes

I am super excited that this year all year 7 and 8 English classes have been booked into the library for a regular fortnightly library session. To start with, these have been general information and orientation sessions, along with borrowing times. I have also started research lessons with our classes, on an as-requested basis.

Books that are all student requests

Our loan stats

I am also very excited to say that even with the two weeks of online learning where our students were not onsite, we’ve done 393 loans just in the three weeks we have been onsite at the time of me writing this halfway through term 1. Compared to the same time last year where we did 238 loans. Of course, this doesn’t include the hundreds of textbooks and English novels that have also been loaned. I hope this trend continues and we’ll continue to monitor what is being borrowed and is most popular. So far our top section is manga and graphic novels, no surprise. I was surprised to see that NF was our next most popular collection, especially the titles we have recently added to this collection.

Trying some new things

This year, my first at leading the library team and library, we have implemented a few new things. In my first post in this series I shared how in my summer holiday I created new layouts for our library system pages, created a website presence on the school library, and started a blog. On our new library system homepage I created links to some of our new features which we are trialing. Of course, we featured our new audiobook platform to go with our ebooks.

We also added a request a book feature. I am hugely passionate about student-driven collections and I have seen the success they can bring. I really wanted our students to have a way to request books. They have always been able to chat to a librarian, but I thought an official online form might help those that wouldn’t be comfortable to ask face-to-face. It’s also easier for us to manage as we have a record of who requested what. I am pleased that we had a few requests before the term even began and at the writing of this we have had 12 requests via the form and about half again verbal requests. That’s just in three weeks of us promoting this feature.

We are also working to change the way our overdue notices are sent to students, trying to instill a love of reading and removing some of that fear around having an overdue book. As a serial overdue borrower (seriously, my public library banned me once because I had books out so long), I know how off-putting a harshly worded overdue email can be and how hard it is to return those books in the busyness of life. We are also looking to extend loan dates, because many of our teen readers are also juggling work, family, sport, music, dance and other extra-curriculars, not to mention school work. We hope the new system will build trust (we are not scary librarians) and build a love of reading.

Connect, Coach, Create

We also introduced our new marketing Connect, Coach, Create. These are featured in our new logo and on our homepage. Connect is all about connecting with reading and with each other and seeing the library as a place of belonging. Under this banner, we’ll promote book collections, reading recommendation lists and start some book clubs. Coach is all about learning from each other. Under coach, students will find how-to videos and links to our databases. Create is all about starting our new makerspace activities. Our first of these will start in Week 6 with a badge making activity, followed by continuing our trivia events (which are hugely popular with the students and a bit of a tradition at the school) and a knitting and crochet club.

Timetabled classes

Along with library classes and library work, I have 4 timetabled classes and these began when remote learning started. These commitments also include the planning for these classes and planning meetings. I am grateful to be working with a very supportive library team who manage the library and the study students when I am out of the library for these classes and great teaching teams to work with for these classes.

Other tasks

I’ve also been meeting with heads of department, our library team and others within the school on various projects and ways the library can support the school. We continue to have lots of requests for resources from the library and the creation of digital resource pages, which keeps us busy. Lunchtimes are always hugely popular, as has been the new (well, it’s old and a hand-me-down from another department, but it’s new to the library) XBox which the students are loving. New puzzles and enthusiastic Year 7 students are keeping the library super busy at lunch.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the term.