A Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian – Finishing 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.
I have to be honest, I had to go back and read my last post in this series, halfway through Term 1, to remember what we had accomplished during the first half of the term and where I left off. My gosh, what a term. It was absolutely fantastic and so much fun. We got so much done, so much started and yet every time I turned around there was something else to do!! So much to do. I think that’s what I love best about working in a school library. I am never, ever bored.
Term 1 has been full of disruptions. From starting the year with remote learning to massive floods that hit our area in the mid-late part of the term, forcing us to return to online learning for the week while roads were repaired and damage assessed. I rather enjoy a change of direction, though, as it often pushes us to assess how the library is functioning and how we can adapt to meet needs. Take the start with online learning, for example, we jumped into textbook collection via an online booking system and contactless collection. When we returned to remote learning and working from home for a week due to the floods, it was awesome to see the Library Team pull together seamlessly. We switched to working from home, we taught online through various software, we put to good use all our digital resources and platforms, we tackled tasks that sometimes we don’t get time to do during a more normal week, like updating the catalogue. We were also very blessed to not suffer any damage to the school library. I know many others were not so fortunate.
Business as usual
Despite the disruptions, life in the library mostly continued on as usual. And by that, I mean it was busy. Lots of classes visiting the library for regular library lessons, reading sessions, borrowing, as well as class visits for research and information literacy sessions. Our library continues to be busy before and after school and during morning teas and lunch for students who are studying, reading, gaming or just hanging out.
In the second half of term 1, we officially launched our Create program. While we did this without much fanfare, we ran three activities: badge making, trivia and knitting and crochet. I’ll share more about each of these in their own posts but it was great to get some hands-on activities started in the library space.
I think managing the collection is one of my favourite parts of being a librarian. I adore (ADORE, I tell you) weeding. I’d much rather have fewer books on the shelves and they be the ones students love and can see and access, rather than tightly packed shelves that students don’t want to touch. So, this term I have been working through each of our genrefied fiction collections in the Secondary school library and removing titles no longer needed. The same is being done in the Junior library for non fiction. We have also then targeted a few collections for purchases, notably the graphic novels and biography sections in the Secondary Library. I have also moved a few things around to make way for expanding the graphic novel section, changing the layout and new signage. My #AmazingLibraryTech is also working on changing all the spine labels for all fiction collections, cleaning the books and shelves and checking that each record in the catalogue is correct and has a cover image. A massive job (did I mention how amazing she is?). The shelves are looking fantastic. Can’t wait to jump into the non fiction.
The new Secondary Library space is currently being built and it’s a lot of fun to watch it slowly take shape. I also had the opportunity to meet with the school team involved in the new building and the architects. I was especially excited about some changes we made to the new library space layout which should make the entrance way really welcoming and the staff areas highly practical. I can’t wait to share more with you on this and to see how it all unfolds. I also got the news that we’ll be needing to move the Secondary Library to a temporary space so our current space can be refurbished for its next use. That means we are now moving forward with plans on how to pack up and move the library. Exciting!!
End of Term 1 Library Report
At the end of the term I met with my Principal and Director of Curriculum to share with them both some updates from the library and chat about the future direction of the library moving forward. Both were incredibly positive conversations and I am so blessed to have such supportive and trusting leaders to work with. In preparation for the meetings I put together a report detailing the success of the library from term 1. I focused on the Secondary Library, as that’s were most of the changes had occurred. I was delighted (fist pump and happy dancing all the way) to discover that while lots of anecdotal evidence was telling us the students and staff were liking the changes our data was backing that up. We’ve had lots of students and staff comment on the student-led collection development, which to them just means “we’ll buy the books you want” and my gosh they love it. They are also liking things like our push on popular books and graphic novels, new signage and more. I’ll share those details in separate posts, so stay tuned.
While a book loaned doesn’t mean a book read (thanks Helen Stower and Krystal Gagen-Spriggs for that important reminder), I do know that the students are loving the new books we’ve added to the collection. I also know that our loans don’t reflect the amount of books read as we have many students who will come and sit and read a graphic novel in the morning before class, finish it and borrow a different one. One borrowed, two read. Equally, we have students who come and read just a section of a book each lunchtime. One book read, no book borrowed. And I know there will be a few books that get borrowed but never read. And that’s okay. What excites me is the buzz around the books we have and yes, the loan stats reflect that.
Where we have purchased new titles, our stats have jumped. New graphic novels. Massive loan stat spike. New biographies and a few new non fiction titles, again an increase. Smaller but I’m still taking that as a win.
Our ebook stats have also increased and it was wonderful to be able to introduce audiobooks to our secondary students. We’ll continue to push, promote and adjust and hopefully the stats will continue to increase.
Now, a two week break is ahead, but I know I’ll be working a lot during those two weeks, planning our library move, next collection management steps and planning lessons for the next term. There will also be some time catching up on reading and enjoying the beautiful weather.
How was your term? I’d love to hear from you. What went well, what didn’t? What are you working on this year in your school library?