Last year, when I was asked to be the librarian at our school, I was told my job had two priorities:
- Improving reading (our school agenda- we had pretty average NAPLAN results)
- Improving the accessibility and culture of the library.
In our library, there is our amazing Teacher Aide (who had been there for years and worked extensively with the previous librarian. I’ll call her TA but really she should be called Wonder Woman) and there is my boss- ummm…. let’s call him DJ.
DJ and I share the role- instead of simply replacing a librarian with a librarian (for various reasons, this wasn’t wanted by the school administration- no they’re not cheap and yes they understand the value of a trained professional, but it’s complicated) they replaced the librarian with me 2/3 of the time- I still have 2 classes of English- and DJ the other 1/3 of the time (he is also Head of IT and Business and teaches 1 class).
IN A NUT SHELL
DJ handles IT- a complex and increasingly complex job in 21st C libraries. Cataloging, OPAC, ClickView, loans permissions, etc.
I handle front of house- Closed Reserves, displays, curriculum, wide reading, student engagement, etc. If you go and have a look at my previous post, you’ll see a snap shot into my first two weeks back for term 2.
TA handles borrowing, physically cataloging and covering, re-shelving (when our library minions get slack. I help out with re-shelving too)
- TA had been told exactly what to do when to do it. She was doing most of the librarian’s job (we’re still discovering the things she DIDN’T do or passed to TA). She kind of freaked out when I told her that she and I would be doing year 8 wide reading lessons with every year 8 class once a fortnight. I did lots of modelling and instructions pages for her. I also put together a wide reading kit (which I’ll do a separate entry on soon)
- DJ had a reputation. I was warned. It was BS, he’s amazing to work with.
- People think I do nothing because the last person appeared to do nothing. People think librarians shelve, read and check out books. Lol.
- The culture of the children at the school is largely non-academic and quite working class. Books and reading are not valued, let alone enjoyed.
- I put together a display schedule and in Week 5, with kids running around the library for Crime Week playing “Whodunnit” and searching for clues, I felt like I had achieved that second goal. Kids wanted to be here. We had phenomenal word of mouth feedback that kids were enjoying themselves in the library.
- Minions. Yes, of the Despicable Me kind. We had over 30 students respond to the call for volunteers. We have about 15 still regularly turn up for re-shelving once a week. We have about 5 who just want to turn up and shelve all the time.
- Job satisfaction. I love teaching. I love my kids. They’re hilarious, even when they’re being stupid. Being in the library means I get to teach, but self manage my time, interact with kids I wouldn’t see in English and History, interact with teachers and basically get a lot of variety which I need in a job to stop me from being bored (although not particularly brilliant, I turn into BBC’s Sherlock when I’m bored which is not good for my husband and those around me). It’s not every day you get to have a job where you can wear your super hero Ts to work, crash tackle your colleagues at the photocopier, tell your boss his Friday Hawaiian shirt obsession is crap and ask my favourite question in the world: CAN I HELP YOU FIND SOMETHING TO READ?
So what do I do?
I get frustrated that everyone does not (yet) appreciate reading and libraries. I run out of time. I stay way to late for someone who has a reduction of marking this year.
I challenge perceptions of librarians and libraries. I love and nurture my kids. I support and persuade my colleagues to try new things.
I have a ball, and I get paid to do it.