This summer has been unique for me. Usually, I jump into professional development opportunities or professional reading, but this summer I have needed a minute. Instead, I have focused on reading for pleasure every day. I have just tried to reset going into the 2021-2022 school year. However, I have found that this has led to some reflection and thoughts about what my plans and goals are for the coming year. I do not know if I will be successful at all of them and some need a bit of fine-tuning, but here are six goals I have for the school library.
Use the Space
In November 2019, we moved into our current school building. I had to set up the current library quickly with the plan to adjust the space as we lived in it; however, you all know what happened next. Then during the 2020-2021 school year, I was teaching on a cart since I was traveling into classrooms. This allowed for students to remain in their cohorts. So I have not actually had the opportunity to truly use the library space for a complete school year until now.
For the coming year, I am excited to have students return to the library! I am looking forward to being able to highlight books through displays and teach in a consistent space. I had never realized how much I relied on browsing the shelves with students when making recommendations.
Focus on Collaboration
During the 2020-2021 school year I was part of the fixed specials rotation. This was due to the ebb and flow of virtual and in-person learning. This year I will be returning to a hybrid model of scheduling, which is what we used prior to the pandemic. Students in preschool and kindergarten will have a fixed schedule, while students in first through third grade will be on a flexible schedule with a specific time set aside for book checkout. The return to this model will allow for more collaboration with classroom teachers.
Additionally, we have eleven new teachers in our school this year! So my goal is to begin building relationships with my new colleagues while making sure to maintain what I have developed with those who are veterans. To get things going I plan to share an introduction letter and a few treats. This idea was borrowed from this blog post by Shannon McClintock Miller. Additionally, I plan to continue to use a monthly menu to help share ideas about ways we can work together.
Complete a Diversity Audit
Last fall, I completed a course from School Library Journal about how to complete a diversity audit of your collection. After this course, I was motivated to get started! As a library department, my colleagues and I determined the identities we wanted to look for in our collections. We determined the areas we planned to start with and created a Google Form to help us collect the information.
Then, when I went to get started, I realized how badly my collection needed to be weeded. Like whoa, baby we needed to weed! So I had to take a step back. I focused on weeding and making sure that what I was going to spend time evaluating was worth looking at.
Now, I feel like I am ready to try again. I am going to focus on smaller chunks so it does not get overwhelming. Since we have already created the materials I feel like it will be easier to move forward. My plan is to set a target date for each section so that I can stay on track. I am excited about the data that this kind of audit will provide and what it will teach me about my collections and ordering practices.
Continue to Promote a Love of Reading
This seems like an obvious one for a librarian. Yet, it was not until I read a blog post by Laura Sheneman on library influencers called the “Culture of Reading” about the idea of being a reading quarterback that I understood where I fit. Now to be clear, no one at my school has given me the title of reading quarterback. It is just sort of how I think of my part in the puzzle of people who influence a school culture when it relates to reading. I plan to continue many of the reading programs that have already been established, but there are a few things I would like to add this year.
It is important as a faculty to show that we are readers. We often tell kids they should read, but do not show them that we actually read ourselves. In my school, this has always been an area that I struggle to include. This year I plan to use my window space to share what teachers are reading. This window space is front and center, but it has been a challenge for me to use it well. So I am hoping that this is a manageable way to use this space to have an impact.
My school has been going through a transition for several years with the building of a new school. Now that we are in our final home I would love to add a Little Free Library in the front of our building. I know that people have mixed feelings about Little Free Libraries, but if done well this can be a way to promote reading before the community even enters the building. I love the idea of making reading something you think about before you even walk in.
Expanding our Bathroom Books program is another goal I have. I know this sounds gross, but is super effective! I got this idea from PD in the Potty and it has always been focused on teachers. Prior to the pandemic, I would have a basket of books in the faculty bathrooms for teachers to check out; however, last year with the idea of germs, I switched this to a visual where teachers could request books if they saw something they liked. When I shared this idea with other librarians they talked about how they used this to recommend books to students too. We have grade-level bathrooms so I could easily post in this space and make it specific to each grade level.
Collect the Data
Each year I create a library report and keep trying things like the number of classes I teach, books that are checked out, times our databases were accessed, etc. However, this year I want to be more intentional about the data I am collecting. I think I am going to go back to a checklist that I had used a few years ago. This was on a clipboard by my desk and I would record the time and the tasks I would work on each day. This would not be my scheduled classes or the things that were on my calendar, but instead were the extras. I feel like “behind the scenes” stuff that happens each day are the things I want to make sure I can speak to.
Find the Fun
I teach elementary students so it should be easy to find something awesome that happens each day! However last year, with all the things, there were days that I lost sight of the fun. This year my goal is going to be to find something each day that shows I have the best job in the whole school! My plan is to write down one fun thing each day in a small notebook so I have a list of awesome things from the year!
What goals do you have for the school year? I would love to hear your plans!
Miller, Shannon McClintock. 2018. “What Your Teacher Librarian Can Do For You…. A Program & Ticket For A Successful Year!” The Library Voice, (Aug. 22). https://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com/2018/08/presentingwhat-your-teacher-librarian.html.
Sheneman, Laura. 2020. “Culture of Reading.” Librarian Influencers (Jan. 23). www.laurasheneman.com/post/culture-of-reading.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).