Happy New Year, and welcome back to the library after a holiday break! As you are working on your own personal resolutions, a new year is a great chance to do a little reflecting on your professional life as well. Although resolutions can be hard to keep, I suggest the following as easy to implement ideas that can change your game as a librarian.
- Mentor a new librarian or find a mentor. Most of us are solo at our campuses, and despite having much in common with teachers and other campus support professionals, we also need a relationship with another person who is doing what we do. Part of being a professional is helping the next generation. Part of growing as a professional is finding someone you can rely on for advice. Plus, no one understands what we do like we do.
- Recruit a new librarian. Our profession is aging. While there is a shortage of jobs due to elimination of positions in some areas of the country, in others, there simply aren’t enough certified school librarians to fill all of the open positions. Having a good pool of certified staff is crucial to maintaining our professional viability. Think about what makes a good librarian in 2016–the ability and willingness to learn and try new things, above average problem solving skills, strong aptitude for teamwork and collaboration, excellent people and customer service skills. Know anyone like this you can encourage? If we want our profession to be seen as a vital, relevant one in the future we need strong candidates taking the place of leaders who are retiring and moving on.
- Step up your social media skills. If you missed the great post by Hannah Byrd Little last week, revisit it to brush up on why this is important for school librarians and school libraries. While it’s often prudent to wait on new trends and let others try them out first, we’re definitely past that stage. Time to jump in with both feet. Or at least open a Twitter or Instagram account.
- Leverage your students as volunteers to keep the library going. Students of all ages can be taught to make the clerical parts of your library run effortlessly. Get out from behind the circulation desk and teach students to check out and even return materials in self-serve fashion. Sure it takes more work at first to teach the routines and procedures, and you may have to let go of some element of control, but moving yourself from the keeper of circulation to teacher and library administrator strengthens your role and the perception that your students, teachers, administrators, and parents have of you.
- Have fun, every day. If you’re not having fun at your job, you’re not doing it right. Think about why you became a librarian–to help connect kids with books? To help students become lifelong learners and consumers of information? Are you doing that every day? If not, why not? Sure, administrators make decisions that sometimes turn your library program in directions you don’t want it to go. There’s only so much you can do when a directive comes down, once you’ve made the case for why a decision might not be aligned with the mission of the library. Still, no administrator would dictate that you can’t make time for meaningful interactions with students. Even if you are handed a schedule that seems to limit that, you can make time to do those things that you love and keep yourself fresh and your job satisfaction high.
Author: Jennifer Laboon
Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.
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