A Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian – Term 4
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.
Wow – Term 4 is almost done. I think I need to sit down. What an absolutely amazing and exhausting term. Term 3 ended with us packing up our school library and moving it into storage and a temporary location. So, it follows that Term 4 began with us settling into our new, temporary home.
Our temporary location is in the staff lounge. We didn’t have enough room to bring all our shelving and books, so most of it was put into storage and we retained a small live collection. Since we were to only inhabit our temporary location for one term to make way for updates to our old space, a temporary space with a limited collection was the best option. It meant we lived out of boxes for the term. Finding anything was a challenge and everything I’d taught students about searching on the catalogue and then finding resources on the shelf went out the window as we operated on a “if you can see it, we have it” mentality. But it was also lots of fun. It was great to see which students made the trek to our new location and it was lovely working more closely with all the staff in the admin building. Another challenge of our new location was being further away from the Junior Library. It was good practice for me, as our Secondary Library (where I am based) will be separate from the Junior Library in our final location as well, balancing time between the two locations and ensuring the team remained cohesive.
Curriculum leader visits
As head of library, I get to attend curriculum leader meetings. Being able to meet and collaborate with the heads of each subject and other key areas of the school is really important for understanding the direction of the school, ensuring the library is prepared to meet curriculum needs, and expanding how we work with different areas of the school. This term, I also had the opportunity to present to the curriculum leaders. I went over some basics – how to access the library catalogue and ePlatform, as well as covering some tips for accessing and using different platforms we provide access to. It surprised me the tips the curriculum leaders found most useful. Things like accessing journals and articles through our state library and creating playlists on Clickview. The presentation also lead to invitations to present to three other curriculum groups, presenting to the teaching teams within the maths, English and humanities teaching teams. I will attempt to present to the other groups next year. It has also shown me how important it is to share these tips with teachers, tips I might otherwise assume they know or are already doing.
Non fiction genrefication
With all the changes happening within our space, it seemed the perfect time to think about genrefying our non fiction collection. Of course, with the bulk of the collection in storage and inaccessible, I did have to go about it in a completely different way than what I’ve done in the past. I’ll post about all this separately, to go into details. Our focus this term was to select the collections we wanted to feature, select names for those collections, select spine labels and purchase a range of new non fiction. It’s meant a massive amount of work, but it will make our new space work so much better with genrefied collections.
Along with a whole collection of new non fiction titles, we also added a few new items. Some were in anticipation of our new building and space, like lots of Lego. Others were simply student requests or things I thought would be popular. I didn’t foresee just how enthusiastic our students would be about the Rubik’s cubes I purchased. These are currently sitting on the temporary circulation desk in a little basket for students to grab and use. I purchased quality speed cubes, as the plan is to have a speed competition. They have been super and it’s even spread a bit of a craze to our junior library.
A new space for 2023 has meant a lot of time this term has gone into planning. Planning the layout of the collections, planning the library staff storage areas, planning events and activities for the new space, planning new signage, planning our goals for the new year and so much more. It has been a lot of fun and rather draining but I am so grateful to be working with such an amazing team and wonderful leadership who have supported all the changes we are making. We’ve also made some changes to our magazine subscriptions for 2023. I’ve asked for student and staff input in a few areas and I have made sure our magazines reflect our school ethos and focus, like including magazines on wellbeing and entrepreneurship. Hopefully these changes will ensure increased interest in the magazines.
Budgets and purchases
Back in Term 3, I had to put together a budget request for our Library and parts of our new building as well. It was a really exciting opportunity to image what could be, both in our new space and within the existing Junior Library and library services as a whole. In Term 4, I learnt that my budget proposal was accepted in full. I was completely and utterly blown away and honoured to be entrusted with these funds – and the trust and confidence that implies. I know I am very lucky to be working at a school that has these funds available and to be working for leadership who are so supportive. But, I also know that a much smaller increase has been asked for in the past and was not accepted, so I know that being given these funds is a reflection of the amazing work we have been doing in the library this year.
Year 6 transition lessons
Part of the tradition of Term 4 includes transitioning our Year 6 classes to the Secondary Library. This means I take over their lessons from our Junior School Teacher Librarian from Week 4 this term. Usually, I run fun activities, QR code hunts and discover sessions around our Secondary Library, so they can find the collections and start borrowing. Of course, being in a temporary location without the bulk of our collection meant these lessons needed to look a little different. I introduced the classes to what our new space will look like next year, our new non fiction collections, a genre sticker hunt (made harder by not all collections and stickers even being visible within the library), and a fun session where they could play with the XBox, Rubik’s Cubes, games, and puzzles. I was really impressed with the cohort this year and their love for and enthusiasm for reading and borrowing.
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It wouldn’t be the end of the year without creating our Library’s end of year report. I love putting these together. They are such a wonderful way to reflect on the year and gather data. I think this data tells a story and is so helpful for justifying budgets (see above), for reflecting on choices we have made and demonstrating the massive amount of work that has gone into creating a wonderful library service.
Let’s move…. again
Of course, as we near the end of Term 4, it was also time to think about moving the Secondary Library into it’s final resting place in the new building. The term was full of massive amounts of planning. I am talking Plan A, Plan B… C, D, E and even F. The amount of times I changed decisions about our library storage shelving…. But, all that planning will be totally worth it when we move into the new space. Of course, part of the difficulty was not really knowing when we’d be able to get into the new space. This year has been challenging for lots of industries, including the building industry. As I write this, it seems like everything is on track for us to move in in early January. Massive thanks to my #AmazingLibraryTech who has been with me every step of the way in our multiple moves and planning. Thanks to Anne Weaver, who has been so generous in sharing tips and ideas and just listening to me debrief. And massive thanks to Quantum Library Supplies who helped us move. They’ve been great.
And so, we almost come to the end of my Year in the Life of a Teacher Librarian. Of course, there is still lots of work to be done over the summer holiday break, so I’ll have one more post in this series. It’s been a really big and exciting year, with lots of changes. That’s why I love working in school libraries – there is never a dull moment.