Making This Summer about YOU: Self-Care for School Librarians

Ahh, the feeling of summer. Time to relax, rejuvenate, and for most librarians, catch up on some reading. This school year has been a struggle for everyone: we have reinvented ourselves as librarians, transformed our staff and community outreach, reimagined what a library could look like without the use of shared materials, and made our spaces and collections available to students whether they were learning from home or at school. We have done a lot of work this school year and put a lot of our time, energy, and creativity into our jobs. Next year awaits us too, figuring out what lessons and successes from this year might carry over into our regular practice. First though, this summer is for us, to detach, recover, and breathe.

This summer, I am determined to enjoy things that I’ve missed. I’m looking forward to sleeping in and adapting to a slower schedule for a while. Gone are the days of a 5:30 a.m. alarm, replaced with waking up to the sun already shining. My to-be-read stack has been piling up, and my holds list at the public library is lengthy. Enjoying restaurants and getting together with friends are high up on my list, along with listening to live music and feeling the breeze in my hair. I have a few mini trips I am planning as well, just to get a change of scenery for a while.

Summer Self-Care

Self-care should be a significant part of our lives as librarians. Our students, staff, and community benefit from so much of our services all school year, but we can only be at our best when we have had the opportunity to take time for ourselves and our families. Consider creating a summer list of activities that you want to do at some point during the break, like binging a new series, taking a morning walk, visiting garage sales or farmers’ markets, going swimming, doing some gardening, watching the sunset, or taking a daily nap. Of course, librarians also participate in summer school, workshops, open library hours, and so much more over the summer. That makes it all the more important to disconnect and remember who we are as people again. It helps us avoid burnout during those periods when our jobs consume us and remember to put ourselves and our needs first sometimes.

Self-Care Can Be Professional Development

For you, maybe self-care is catching up on professional development opportunities you might have missed this school year. There are lots of on-demand webinars, recently released professional books, and workshops on a variety of topics. Maybe you’ll attend a summer institute to sharpen some of your skills. If you are planning to genre-fy your collection next year or launch your makerspace, you might want to learn more about that topic or investigate a new technology tool. Some informal forms of professional development might include visiting nearby museums, historical places, national parks, or nature preserves. You may also consider watching a newly released movie that might be popular with your students, too. Summer is a great time to explore new ideas uninterrupted that might have a positive impact on the upcoming year.

Making Your Own Plan

So this summer, take your school e-mail off of your phone. Pick up some books to read just because you want to. Maybe even read a grown-up book if you’re really feeling brave! Go do things that you truly enjoy or pick up that hobby again that you laid aside for a while. Visit that place you have missed while in quarantine. When you come back, you’ll be relaxed and ready for whatever next school year has in store for you. Whether you decide to revamp your library website, catch up on issues of Knowledge Quest, stay up late, or do none of those things, make this summer about what YOU want to do. We all deserve it.

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.

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