Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beginning a New Library Journey

As a fairly new librarian starting yet another journey, I thought I'd start keeping a blog of my thoughts, ideas, and experiences as I move from the elementary level to the high school level. I'm not the best blogger because I typically get so wrapped up in planning, teaching, and reading that I don't have much time to blog. However, I think it is important to reflect and to share ideas with others, so here I am. I'm scheduling myself a day each week to post at least one blog so that my reflections are regular throughout the year rather than my normal hit or miss strategy.

A little background information might be helpful at this point. I work in a fairly small school district with only 6 schools in the state of Texas. Our high school had been without a certified librarian for at least a year, maybe two, before I started at one of the elementary schools. Unfortunately, the previous librarian had not left a favorable impression and the school administrators felt that rather than take on anyone of that same quality or worse, they'd rather just keep the library open with an assistant, a volunteer, and our district Technology/Library director in attendance every few days. To give them all the credit they absolutely deserve, over a five year period the library was transformed from a very old-school library with tall view-blocking shelves, very little seating, and few computers to an open learning-commons area with tables, a huge bank of Mac and PC computers, some comfortable seating areas, and a "classroom" area.

However, despite these wonderful changes and the warm welcoming atmosphere that was created in the library space, the teachers and students were not being supported and served by a certified teacher-librarian. Databases were not used, research lessons not taught or supported in the library, and circulation dropped to only the most avid readers in high school. Many students commented that they made it through high school without ever once checking out a book from the library or even stepping foot in the library. The administrators decided that it was a priority to hire a certified librarian to provide the additional curriculum, research, and reading support to the school.

Around the middle of the summer I received word that our school board had approved the funding for a full-time certified librarian at the high school and was offered the position. I spent a lot of time looking at other high school librarian blogs, joining YART and other YA listservs to begin gathering ideas and information, and began brainstorming ways to get student attention from the beginning of the school year.

A sci-fi geek at heart, I decided to play my nerd card and embrace it completely. My husband and I spent a day painting a giant TARDIS on the library windows as a statement that the library was changing. The message...The Library is Regenerating. Now, for those of you who are not Whovians, the main character of Dr. Who is The Doctor. When one actor decides to leave the role and another comes on board, the Doctor regenerates. That is, he changes into a new person. Thus, our library is regenerating since it has a new librarian and is undergoing several new changes. At the beginning of school I got lots of comments about it and a couple of hugs from kids right off the bat. It certainly let them know that changes were on the horizon.

The next addition was a fish tank. I had inherited an aquarium at my previous elementary school and wasn't too happy about it. But, they grew on me over time and I knew I just had to have an aquarium in my new library. The fish are a fantastic conversation starter and really uplift spirits. The sound of the water is calming and the fish are eager to see new people. They always swim right to the glass to see the students and teachers gawking at them. It has definitely been a good addition.

Thus, my library journey started down a new path with a regeneration and a tank of fish. The story will continue and I hope to share more changes, ideas, and thoughts that are simply "Librarialicious."