Dear Dr. Laura,
School hasn’t even started and I’ve already gotten an invitation to an event that says it’s going to be held in the library. I didn’t even know about it! What do I do?
Hi, Out-of-the-Loop Librarian
If you ask around, I think you’ll find this is pretty common, especially when you first get started at a school. I know you are so excited to finally have your very own library. But, like it or not, you’re going to quickly come to the realization that it’s really the school’s library and not your own. That can be tough to come to terms with in the beginning.
One thing I want to encourage you to do is start early having open communication with your administrative team. I remember early in my career I was frequently surprised by all the other things that happened in the library that had nothing to do with me or what I planned for the library. There were days I felt like the library was “commandeered” without my knowledge. The school nurse might show up with an army of other nurses because today is the day the district sent the team to do hearing and vision tests for your campus and they need a large, semi-quiet place. Or state testing might consume the library space for weeks at a time. So many things can pop up throughout the year.
So, first I want to encourage you to make a proactive plan of how you will approach this. It’s always going to work best to go in with positive words. Work hard to remove any negative connotations from what you want to say. Wordsmith it until everything can be seen as you being supportive of what the campus is doing.
Negative: Mr. C, Nobody told me we were having hearing and vision testing this week in the library. What do you want me to do now?
First Draft of Positive: Mr. C, Is there any way I can be part of the admin meetings or get a copy of the notes so I can plan better by knowing when campus events are going to be held in the library. If I can know in advance when the library space is going to be needed, I can make alternate plans for book checkout or lessons I’m doing with the teachers.
By carefully managing the library schedule, you are modeling and teaching your administration team one of the common beliefs of of AASL. “1. The school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community. As a destination for on-site and virtual personalized learning, the school library is a vital connection between school and home. As the leader of this space and its functions, the school librarian ensures that the school library environment provides all members of the school community access to information and technology, connecting learning to real-world events. By providing access to an array of well-managed resources, school librarians enable academic knowledge to be linked to deep understanding.” You know 100% that when the library is open, your learners and educators have the most opportunity and best access to resources they need.
Don’t be surprised if you hear something like - we don’t have a master calendar like that. Excellent! It’s now time for you to show off your technology skills! Offer to enter the dates on the campus calendar hosted on your website platform. Offer to teach the campus secretary how to add those dates to the calendar! Create a shared calendar in Google or Microsoft. There are lots of options for this kind of thing.
Meanwhile, think of some things you can do when other events take over the library. It may be a blessing in disguise and give you time to catch up on administrative tasks you need to do, like shelve books, place an order, repair some items, etc.
But, maybe you can also plan some other ways to serve the classrooms during this time. I’ve heard of pop-up story times, where you take a story to a classroom or outside space and read to them. You can have a mobile checkout cart and laptop, where you position yourself in a hallway and have students return books to your cart and checkout new ones you have on the same cart. You can also do something like checkout a crate of books to your teachers ahead of time when you know something is happening in advance at your library. The class can use those books for the week until your schedule is back to normal.
Remember to keep it positive and hopefully you won’t be out-of-the-loop much longer!
Librarian Influencers of the Week: the American Association of School Librarians Common Beliefs
AASL Common Beliefs website - https://standards.aasl.org/beliefs/
Twitter handle: @aasl https://twitter.com/aasl