This weekend, I went and saw Andrew Bird perform. One thing that he is really good at is looping music, so it creates a rich, nuanced song. On the ride home, I was thinking about how educators do this on a yearly basis.
When I was first hired, I was told that there would be a chance that I would be split over a few buildings a few years into my career (thankfully that didn’t happen-I appreciate my admin for seeing value in my program!). Because of this ultimatium, I looked at my space/program and thought, “In 2-3 years, I may have half the time to get things done. How can I put systems in place that make that division of labor managable?” I was haunted by stories of friends trying to survive working in multiple buildings and the tasks that they had to cast aside for the sake of their sanity.
Loop 1: Collection Mangement
The biggest challenge I had was my collection. I had a collection in DESPERATE need of a big weed and my titlewave data was just horrifying to look at (the whole collection age was 1984, but some sections are still pretty ugly). My reference question hadn’t been touched in 22 years, and my paperbacks were in their own collection and not cataloged and put in the computer. As a first year librarian I had so many challenges, but since I didn’t know how much time I’d have the luxury of being one-building/full-time, I started building loops into my program.
These issues are things that only mattered in my world, and my teachers didn’t even know the full scope, so first I worked to educate my colleagues. I did some spot weeding of the truely terrible and had a “closet of shame” to inform my teachers that, yes some books would mysteriously disappear, but they were going to disappear for a reason. Now my teachers know that during my slow months, weeding happens, but I’m less likely to deal with PR struggle of “librarians throwing away books.”
Then I had to figure out how to handle my reference books. This is something that I am still working on 6 years later. I struggle with doing it all at once because I know some books can find a good home somewhere in my building, but that sometimes takes a while for it to come out of the woodwork. One thing I do that forces me to attack my reference pile is by building a “library tree” every year.
Yes, it’s cute and festive, but it serves an ulterior motive. When I clean it up, I make it a point to “evaluate and rehome” at least half of the books on the tree. In addition, it forces me to do a reference weed at least once a year.
Loop 2: Curriculum
Librarians are always reflecting on what lessons work, and adjusting for the next year. But when you live in a flexible schedule world, you have the added burden of persuading teachers of the benefit of the library. Every year, we use activities we have to advocate for our teachers to use the library more, and we improve on our activities to make sure we are teaching certain skills to the best of our abilities.
Loop 3: Displays
I’m a slacker librarian with displays….I save all my signs I put into sign holders to reuse year after year. Librarians and teachers also love laminators for reusing signs.
Loop 4: Empowering Students to Share the Library Love
Every year, we have students who get excited about books, who are willing to get more independant in maker challenges, who are always trying to get better at research. These students want to share their passions. These are the students who we can rely on to share book recommendations with each other. To help each other with various maker challenges. To assist each other with research. Each student we reach then is a resource for another student. In our library, we are building a network of assistance for our students. They can rely on us, teachers, and their peers to grow as learners.