Whoo-hoo! It is time for back to school! Are you excited? My birthday is in the middle of the summer, and I was always excited to get birthday money because I could use it to buy school supplies. There was always something so special to me about the start of a new school year. Brand new notebooks waiting for new thoughts and facts, sharp pencils that still have erasers, fresh crayon smells coming from a box so neatly packaged with all of the colors that you just need a new coloring book to go with them. I admit that I have always been drawn to these symbols of a new school year. I even have those new supplies sitting at home right now, and they are not all for my eight-year-old son (especially not the coloring book).
But, more importantly, I have always been drawn to the promise a new year brings. Every new school year brings new hope and possibility. Who will I make friends with? Who will I sit with at lunch? Will I like my teachers? Will they like me? I know you are all thinking these same questions as you head back to school. The wonder at what we will learn and who we will grow into is still there many years later with each new year.
The difference is that as a school librarian, when I walk into my libraries, I imagine the learners I prepare for–students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. I get excited about seeing them and welcoming them back into the spaces. I realize that I have been worrying about some that I haven’t seen in a while because our library was their safe zone. I wonder what stories they have lived over the summer. I hope their summer adventures were more fantasy and fun than dystopian and horror. I look forward to hearing all of these stories. I look forward to sharing mine. I think this year I will put out a communal notebook just for the school library’s many stakeholders, next to some sharpened pencils and a new box of crayons. Maybe they will share their summer stories and their expectations for the new year and the school library with me.
I encourage you each to grab a fresh notebook–either a regular spiral-bound school notebook or a special journaling book. Splurge on a really nice pencil or pen and maybe some crayons (and a coloring book). Jot down the stories that touch your heart. Be ready to share them when you see your stakeholders. Consider infusing small-talk conversations with, “You won’t believe what happened in the school library!” Share about the learner that finally finished a book, even if they are now a junior. \Share about the learner who skipped out of the school library with a book about how to take care of her guinea pig because she was so excited to get her first pet. Share about the moody learner who finally cracked a smile and said hello. These are the stories that show the true value of our school libraries–the connections we make with our students.
Do you have your notebook and writing instrument? Give it a title and a nice cover or title page. How will your book of the new school year begin?
Do you know what happened in the school library? Well, once upon a time…