By Dedra Van Gelder
It’s Library Lovers’ Month–time to spread the love and passion we have for libraries and the folks who work in them. Goodness knows we can probably all use a little extra right now. It is easy to let yourself get down and fall into the trap of negative thinking. Now more than ever, we need to focus on loving our libraries for what they are and loving our library staff where they are at. To get where you want to go, you have to start where you’re at. Keep reading for four seriously doable ways to show your love this month.
Send valentines in volume. I’m serious about this one. Either stop at the store and grab a box of those pre-made cheesy fun ones, or get some construction paper and cut out some hearts. (After February 14, all that stuff is bound to go on super sale so stock up.) Then start writing your library staff some messages. Your message could be as simple as sharing a title of a book you loved that you think they might enjoy. You might take it a step further and write about something that person has done this year that you thought was really lovely. Maybe your librarian set a goal to finally weed some of his or her video collection, and you have seen them making progress on that task. Let them know you noticed. Maybe one of your assistants has been pulled repeatedly to provide substitute coverage, but still makes sure that the books get shelved before the next day. Let the appreciation flow. It feels good when someone notices the things you do and the efforts you make. And if you’re thinking that it’s too late, or that Valentine’s Day will be over by the time your cards arrive… who cares? Share the love throughout the whole month or even throughout the whole year.
Don’t have time to make handwritten valentines? Spread the sweet through a Tweet. Show off the awesome things that are going on in your district’s libraries. Take pictures of fantastic displays, students researching, reading, making, etc… Superintendents and principals love positive press. This is an easy way to promote the great things going on in your schools and highlight the library program at the same time. This morning I challenged my librarians to spread the library love by tweeting things they love about their libraries using #CCPSlibrarylove. I can’t wait to see what they come up with! Adding the hashtag will make it easy for any of us to go back and find this collection of tweets later in the year when a little pick-me-up is needed.
Highlight the happiness instead of harping on the things that are going wrong. If you put out a newsletter for your library staff, do an issue that focuses just on the good things going on: programs and events that were really successful, lessons that really had students engaged, titles that are circulating like crazy, etc. Share a copy with your supervisors, superintendent, and school board if possible. This positive press is easy advocacy for your program.
Easy does it! Find a way to make someone else’s job a little easier, even if it’s just for one day. You could visit a school and spend some time doing any number of dreaded tasks like weeding, cataloging, shelf reading, etc. Use a screencasting tool like Screencast-o-matic to record a quick video demonstrating how to do something. I’ve got a whole channel of screencasts on how to run different reports, print barcodes, in Destiny. I have another channel that walks my people step by step through each section of completing our annual report for the state. Last week, a librarian (who has been trying to get the teachers in her building to collaborate with her more) called to tell me that a social studies teacher finally reached out to her. He wanted her help creating a lesson for his students that would give them a chance to practice reading and annotating text in a digital environment. I made a screencast modeling the annotation and commenting tools available in Adobe that she could share with the teacher and his class. It didn’t take me long to make, but it was one thing off her plate so that she could focus on digitizing the documents needed and working out the details of the lesson.
There are lots of ways to show your love during Library Lovers’ Month. These suggestions are just a way to get started. The key is to keep it genuine. That it comes from the heart is what means the most. This time of year, your library staff may be yearning for spring. They may be caught up in the midst of testing, or figuring out how to fit hundreds of science fair backboards for display while still addressing the needs of kids who just want to check out something to read. They may be dealing with having their assistants pulled to cover classes for teachers who have gone home sick. Whatever they are dealing with, you can help make their day just a tiny bit brighter by showing some library love.