As 2016 dawns, I am experiencing a new library for my students. Yes, the books and technology are still the same, but the goals are different. This year, I will be tackling new library development projects with a renewed vigor. There is so much on the forefront of school library development that it will be difficult to choose just a few tasks, but it is inevitably worth any extra effort needed.
The first is the same as it is every year: Grants. Grants and grant writing are the lifeblood of an impoverished library. As funds dwindle, so too must librarians begin to search out alternative and creative ways to execute library development. My advice with grant writing is to think outside of the box. Traditional school library grant sources often offer small amount, highly competitive grants. Look outside of these sources to find donors whose objectives may meet with yours. Examine your audience. Your students are much more than just a “student body” or “elementary school students.” They come from a variety of backgrounds, have a plethora of learning styles and needs, and offer demographical surprises around every corner.
The second of my new year, new library efforts lands upon the makerspace movement. Our school library is the hub for school projects of every kind. If I can make resources available to my school that fit these project needs, then I can help boost student creativity and confidence at the same time. Currently, our makerspace program is focused on a poster-making station with resources like Sharpies, washi tape, embellishments, and puffy paint. It’s a small start, but it gives the students who cannot economically afford to do project posters a lift in their self-esteem as they are able to create posters of the same caliber or higher than their peers.
Lastly, another goal I have is to expand my professional learning network of school librarians. Coming from a rural area, it’s easy to become isolated as the only high school library professional in my district. I want to expand my communications to other school librarians who face similar challenges in rural areas.
Ultimately, even though much stays the same, new goals can give our library lives a much needed facelift. This year is the year of grants, makerspaces, and expanding a community learning network of school library professionals. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
Author: Megan Shulman
Megan is both the middle and high school librarian at Humboldt Junior Senior High School which serves grades 7-12. She has her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Shulman has been both a classroom teacher and a school librarian. This upcoming school year, she will be entering her 8th year in public education serving Title 1 schools. Her areas of expertise are school library leadership, brain-based learning strategies, and creating maker-spaces in the current library atmosphere.
Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Makerspaces/Learning Commons, Professional Development
I love the poster-making station idea! That’s the first makerspace suggestion I’ve heard that actually sounds like an easy and practical way to start with making. Also, a poster station would provide a clear example for administrators of how makerspaces can help kids.
I like your advice about seeking out non-traditional grant sources. I’ve definitely had poor results with the high-competition library-focused grants. What kinds of non-traditional grants have worked well for you? Could you provide an example?
Thank you for sharing!