So you’re the boss of a school librarian? Congratulations! School librarianship can be one of the most rewarding positions in a school, as long as it’s a respected and well-utilized role. The good news is that school administration can positively impact the mutual satisfaction of both the school and the school librarian.
HERE ARE 12 WAYS TO ROCK IT:
- Encourage your school librarian to be proactive. They need to get out there and work on relationships, attend curricular meetings, and be part of the life of the school. One of the best things about being a school librarian is that your role is somewhat amorphous– no one knows exactly what you’re supposed to do, so it’s an opportunity to surprise and delight your staff by exceeding their expectations. In my experience, expectations of a school librarian are that they check books out to students. It’s not difficult to raise the bar here!
- Demonstrate to the staff your respect for your school librarian. They are watching you and will follow your lead. Listen to your school librarian, ask for his opinion, and encourage others to do the same.
- Include your school librarian to participate in a wide variety of meetings and committees. The school librarian’s schedule is often flexible (I know this isn’t always the case), so it makes sense to include her in meetings on a wide variety of topics– no sub coverage needed (again, depending on the case), and you get additional input from a unique perspective.
- Encourage your school librarian to be a technology leader, and include her in technology planning meetings. Most school librarians I know are tech-savvy. They also have direct and specific knowledge about copyright and other issues of digital citizenship, so adding this additional element to your technology meetings makes good sense.
- Visit the library often. Talk to the librarian, talk to the staff, and talk to the students. The school library is usually one of the main areas of the school in which students hang out before, during, and after school hours. You can learn a lot about your school community by spending time in the library.
- Leave your office and work in the library for an hour a week, at different times of the day. Observe how it functions, how students and staff use the library, and note any areas of need. Provide support and feedback, much as you would after a classroom walkthrough. Plus, you might even get some work done (the library’s good for that)!
- Hold meetings, events, and celebrations in the library. Show it off. People who don’t usually come to the library are often surprised at what a great space is is, and are then more likely to come back.
- Talk about your own reading— professional, personal, what you liked to read when you were in school, anything to demonstrate that you value reading.
- Ask your school librarian to provide professional development (information literacy, technology, etc.) for teachers. Institute Days are a good time for this, as are faculty meetings, after school workshops, lunch-n-learns, etc. Maybe she could even create a series of short video modules on a variety of topics (this is where the tech savvy-ness comes in).
- Provide adequate support staff. This is perhaps the most important support you can provide to your school librarian. All of the other suggestions on this list are almost impossible if the school librarian is tied to the library’s physical space and is solely responsible for the clerk/supervisory activities of the school library.
- Meet with your school librarian on a monthly basis. Keep in touch with what’s going on in the school library. Share with him issues that you are working on as well, because he might be able to help you by providing support, ideas, volunteering for committees, etc.
- Understand the importance of the physical library space. If it’s not inviting or comfortable, encourage (and financially support) your school librarian to make improvements.
For more information on hiring school librarians, read the fabulous Jennifer LaGarde’s recent post An Open Letter to Principals (Before You Hire a New School Librarian)!