My theme for the year has absolutely been change! From the moment we hit 2020, it’s been one change after another.
Chatham County Schools, which is a little over an hour from here, advertised for a school librarian in their brand new elementary school. I applied online, was interviewed via Zoom, and then I was hired over the phone! I haven’t even met anyone there face to face yet. Opening a new school has been on my bucket list for a while, so I’m incredibly excited for this new adventure.
Making a List
When there is a lot to do and a limited amount of time, I make a list of everything I’d like to accomplish. After making the list, I circle the top two to five items that should make the biggest impact. Below are the things on this year’s list.
Inventory comes every year in a Title I school! I have to admit that this year’s inventory was a little strange. Only ten teachers were allowed in the building at a time. They had three hours to get their personal items and pull all their bar-coded things for inventory. It took a week for everyone to go through their rooms.
After that, the inventory team (me with absolutely two amazing assistants) came through and worked our scanning magic. Wearing masks and armed with bottles of hand sanitizer, we moved from room to room. If a teacher was still working in a room, we had to skip it until they were finished. We zig-zagged across the building until inventory was complete.
Dealing with Books
Books always make my list before school is out. If no books need processing, then plenty need repairing. My plan for this year was to make repairs, but due to COVID-19, instructional funds were reallocated, and books were purchased!
These new books needed to be checked against the order and then cataloged. My first thought was, “Yes! We can do this!” While the inventory team kept scanning in classrooms, I checked books against packing slips and thought about ways to make cataloging 1,150 books happen before my last day.
Then reality hit. Cataloging books is important, but it was also time for students to begin returning hotspots and Chromebooks. I hated the thought of leaving this cataloging job unfinished, but unfortunately, it became a choice between cataloging or taking care of the incoming technology. I had to accept that it’s OK to not finish everything on my list.
I lean towards minimalism and don’t keep a lot of things. Packing made me realize, however, that I still have much more than I need and could ever use. To keep packing under control, I found it extremely helpful to set aside a little time each day to pack and then took just a few boxes home each day. This kept the task from feeling too big to handle. In no time, boxes lined the walls of our guest room instead of my office.
For the New Librarian
OTES is getting a new librarian, and I’d like for them to feel welcome. One of the things I did was to make notes as I worked to help explain things I thought needed clarification. I included info about all the boxes of books I mentioned above, how I used the ten bins of magazines that are sitting in the fiction section, and why there is a full-sized table with 12-inch legs. I hope that this information will help them feel at home quickly (or at least not wonder why in the world I had gardening supplies in the back closet). A note of welcome with my phone number was left where the new person is sure to find it. And sitting with the note is a small gift to celebrate what I hope will be as wonderful an adventure for them as it was for me.
I’d love to hear what you do when you change schools. What are some things you’d like to do to make the experience more memorable for you and the person following you?
Author: Bitsy Griffin
Bitsy Griffin is the school librarian for Chatham Grove ES in Chapel Hill NC. She has 25+ years experience in elementary, middle, and high schools as a math teacher and librarian. She is active in AASL and the North Carolina School Library Media Association. Find her blog at http://www.bitsygriffin.com .