I’m just starting out in the field of school services librarianship. To help organize what I learn through this experience and to give other librarians interested in this concentration a picture of what it’s like, I’ve decided to write a monthly series on the work I’ve done in this area.
January was a time of practice, preparation, and waiting. I observed visits in action, attended a networking meeting, and did a lot of reading to prepare for the 7th & 8th grade booktalks I’ll be giving in April.
I shadowed a fellow librarian on a visit to fourth graders at a local elementary school. We brought a projector, a powerpoint presentation, USB wireless remote control, ten nonfiction books, ten book stands, and sundry cords and bits. At the school, we worked with the staff to set up the projector and screen and load the powerpoint presentation. Lesson number one: Be nice to everyone you meet, since you’ll rely on all of them to help you do your work in an unfamiliar environment. The school’s projector ended up being faulty, so we tore down and re-set with the machine we brought along just for that eventuality. We had plenty of time to get everything humming before 3 classes of 4th graders filed in. Lesson number two: arrive early and carry a backup plan, especially if you’re using technology. My coworker proceeded to booktalk all ten titles, one from each hundred-level Dewey range. She asked the kids a lot of questions, highlighted the most outrageous/funny/frightening bits of each book, and only had two interruptions asking her to talk louder. Lesson number three: Engagement through participation is just as important to school kids as it is to toddlers – and none of it matters if they can’t hear you.
At the January meeting of the School Facilitators Networking Group (a suburban-Chicago group of, you guessed it, school facilitators), we discussed a range of topics as selected by the group:
- Adding “public library card” to school supply lists
- Summer-only library cards & non-resident library cards
- Self advocacy – promoting your role as school liaison (or similar) within your library and your community
- Book recommendations
- Fines, amnesty, food drives, and fine-free models
Lesson number four: School districts and public libraries vary immensely from place to place. What works for someone else might be inspirational and seem easy, but it still may not work for your patrons. Remember to put them first.
I read Greenglass House, Audacity, and The Accidental Highwayman. I approved Greenglass House and Audacity to go on the official list for our 7th & 8th grade booktalks in April.