As I begin to think about the start of the school year my focus is on how to create positive momentum. I like to make sure that my colleagues view the library the same way I do. A few years back, one of my mentors, Cheri Dobbs (@CheriDobbs) suggested I write a letter to my colleagues to explain my vision for the library. Another teacher librarian had shared it with her and had found it successful. I tell you this, because I cannot claim this idea as my own. It is a fabulously borrow and then borrow again idea!
This letter was not meant to change all mind-sets, but it did open up some doors. I was asked more questions, had opportunity to collaborate more regularly, and it allowed others to understand that I did more than check out books. It provided people with the knowledge that I needed them to have in a friendly way. I have used bits of it every year since.
I have a slightly different version for faculty that is new to our school. It gives them more information on my background and the purpose behind the letter. I like to print this letter “old school” and put it in mailboxes. Emails can be overwhelming at the start of the school year. More people actually read it if I put it in print. Below are the basics of my letter:
It is always nice to see you! I hope your summer was a relaxing one. I am excited to start another year with all of you. To help get things going this year, here are a few things I wanted to share and/or remind you about…
- The librarian doesn’t own the library. You and your students do. You can recommend materials and have a voice in the library policies. Feel free to share!!
- Planning is a good thing. I will do my best to get what you need as quickly as I can, but the more time you give me the better.
- The library provides books and so much more. Although books are one of the more important things you can find at the library I want to remind you about the library website. We currently have a subscription to many databases that support your classroom themes. The online catalog is available so you can find books and other resources. Watch for a library resources party coming soon.
- You can check out resources even when I am not there. Near the circulation desk is a clipboard labeled Staff Check-Out. There is a chart located on this clipboard where you would fill in your last name, the date, title of the book, and the barcode number located on the back of the book. This way you can check something out even when I am not available.
- The best resource in the library is the librarian. I want to help you plan a project, co-teach a lesson, share new technology tools, find professional research, give insight into an ethical problem, or answer a reference question. And if I can’t do it, I will help you find someone who can. I can also provide materials through inter-library loan for upcoming themes or lessons.
- The library can help meet your student’s reading needs. The library curriculum helps to promote children’s literature and uses activities to help students enjoy the stories even more. I do my best to keep your students “hooked on reading” by recommending reading material that is appropriate for them. Children will also develop their information literacy skills through project-based activities when they come to the library.
- The librarian will be your partner when trying new things. If you need somebody to share the glory or the failure of a new unit, activity, or methodology I would love to help!
I hope your year will be a positive one!
See you soon!
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).