Yes, Rest and Reboot, but Plan!
By the time summer rolls around each year, many of us are exhausted and in need of rest and a reboot. Every other book or article I have read so far this break cover these topics. While rest is essential, I keep thinking that planning for next year is just as important. I keep asking myself what I can do today, for which my tomorrow self would say, “Thank you!” Sometimes just a little planning can ease our future stress, and according to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
The job of a school librarian is multifaceted and requires much planning. We are facility/property managers, collection developers, teachers, web admins, and social media marketers. School Librarians must train for all of these facets. But we have to make certain we balance our downtime with rest, reflection, and planning.
The library, if it is not in a separate building, is often the largest “classroom” in a school. However, what classroom teacher has as much furniture, equipment, and technology to arrange and maintain? My library is a separate building, and there are even more responsibilities that come with this privilege. For instance, working with school maintenance on everything from roof leaks to keeping utility costs down.
Evaluating the Efficiency of the Library Space
In the summertime, we reflect on the previous year and assess the library space to see what is needed for the coming year. Engaging with the administration about the library facility is important. During the breaks, administrators are making hard decisions about every space throughout the campus. Think about how the library facility operates in relationship to the whole school. Flexibility is vital. What worked for the last ten years may not work next year.
When evaluating space and best practices, we need to ask hard questions like “Is the makerspace the best use of space?” and “Are teachers and students using that space?” Many schools may still have library classrooms or computer labs meant for “library instruction.” These rooms we have fiercely guarded as library property. The more I reflect, the more I realize that I am much more effective when I take inquiry and research instruction to the individual classrooms, where these concepts are not taught in a vacuum. We might ask ourselves, “Is it better to share our library classroom or our makerspace room with a classroom teacher that might otherwise have to teach in a dilapidated portable?”
Looking for inspiration or solutions? Check out these resources.
- Space to Think: Co-Designing a Library Environment for Student Ideation
- Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget
- Change Your Space, Change Your Culture: How Engaging Workspaces Lead to Transformation and Growth
- The Third Teacher
Now is the time to ask what the school library facility of the future looks like. If we do not have a plan for the library space that we share with our administrators, they might have a very different plan for the place.
And in the next few months, read more about planning in the school library, including topics like collection development, library instruction, online presence, marketing, and the library catalog.
Many may have true fears about changes in the library space. Some may have invested countless hours in programs we hesitate to abandon. Please do share ideas for working with administrators in the library space.
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.