Just Starting Out? Resources and Tips for New School Librarians

It’s that time of year when I start to see many of the same posts online: “I’m a new librarian! Where should I start?” While the responses are all vaguely similar, I wanted to take a minute to compile some of the most helpful resources for new librarians just starting out in the world of Libraryland.

Let’s start here: Congratulations! Being a librarian is the best job in the school and librarians are the best bunch of people I know in this world. While you may feel apprehensive about this school year for a whole bunch of reasons, there are a lot of resources around you that can offer support, both now and throughout your career.

Beginning Your Librarian Journey

  • The Louisiana Association of School Librarians (LASL) just hosted a webinar offering advice for new school libraians. You can take a look at the slide deck (bit.ly on the first slide of the webinar) but actually watching the recording on YouTube might be more useful–lots of great advice and suggestions by the panelists, including one of SLJ‘s School Librarians of the Year, Amanda Jones (who is also vice president of LASL and a fellow KQ blogger).
  • Kelsey Bogan, librarian in Pennsylvania, wrote a blog post in 2019 called “10 Tips for New School Librarians!” that gives some insightful suggestions about where to start, as well. She has a great writing voice that makes you feel like you are sitting with her in Starbucks and absorbing all of her wisdom like a sponge. (Also: take a peek at the rest of her blog posts; there are lots of topics for consideration there, too!)
  • While it’s a bit more dated (2016), Lee Collazo (AKA Mrs. Readerpants) put together a really helpful list of practical first tasks to conquer in your library in “New School Librarian? 10 Things You Should Do First.” (Also: Subscribe to Mrs. Readerpants’s blog; she puts together weekly blog posts with that week’s new book releases; they are really helpful!)

Continuing Your Learning

Once you have the basics down and you’re getting settled in your position, don’t forget to continue to stay on top of what’s new in Libraryland. Building your professional learning network is crucial, both in person and virtually, but here are some great ways to learn from librarian thought leaders, too:

  • The School Librarians United podcast with Amy Hermon offers hour-long sessions with librarians across the United States on a variety of topics related to the school library. Some of my favorite episodes are “Teaming Up with Your Administration” (March 13, 2021) and “Stuff They Didn’t Teach You in Library School” (October 25, 2020).
  • The Librarian Influencers podcast with Laura Sheneman is fantastic, because she also interviews librarians across the country but her primary focus audience is new librarians. (Full disclosure: I am featured in an episode being released in August or September!) I like a lot of her episodes because I enjoy listening to various perspectives of different librarians across the country. Also, her show notes and resources are stellar!
  • Whether you are a member of AASL or not, there is a lot of content in the AASL Learning Library that pertains to various aspects of school librarianship. If you are a member, you can access all of the Knowledge Quest journal issues, many helpful webinars, and much more!
  • Finally, consider joining your state’s school library association. If you aren’t sure what it is called, search your state and school library association in your search engine of choice. Most school library associations offer lots of benefits for members, including an annual conference, newsletters, networking opportunities, and more. It is a wonderful way to connect with librarians in your state and share ideas about all things library.

Final Thoughts

Above all, remember why you became a librarian and use those ideas to determine how you will run your library (see my previous post about figuring out your “Why” here). Gail Dickinson, one of my favorite professors and also a former AASL President, says that the worst thing about being a librarian is that no one knows everything that you do, but the best thing about being a librarian is that no one knows everything you do. So make your new library yours! Set a few priorities for your first year and determine how you will make your mark on your school. Oh and by the way, whether your first year is fantastic or horrific, you’ll have your librarian PLN to listen, offer support, and give you suggestions. So go be awesome! Your staff and students deserve it.

Featured Image, including Clipboard Green Check, by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

Author: Rachel Grover

Rachel Grover is a middle school librarian in Fairfax County, Virginia, and a member of the board of directors for the Virginia Association of School Librarians. She has published articles on ways to make school libraries accessible for Knowledge Quest and on genrefying the library collection for School Library Connection. She also has developed workshops for beginning librarians for School Library Connection. Rachel was an elementary school teacher for two years before beginning life as a middle-school English teacher in 2009. In 2014, she joined Libraryland, finding a dream job she didn’t even know was her dream! When she is not working, she loves reading, tinkering with technology, traveling, taking photographs, and sleeping in. Her passions include genrefication, makerspaces, technology, collaboration with teachers across the curriculum, and making school libraries equitable and accessible for all learners.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development, Technology

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