Seven C’s for School Librarians, Part Two
Written By Karen Haggard
This article is adapted from a presentation I did at TASL Conference 2019. Although the presentation was aimed at new librarians, there are nuggets here for librarians at any level of experience. Note: extra resources for this series can be found at this link: https://wke.lt/w/s/YrwF0Z
The Seven C’s for School Librarians are:
Cultivate a Positive Presence
Care & Feeding of Administrators
Contemplate the Work
Connect to Grow
Care for Yourself
The Seven C’s will be shared over the course of three posts. Part Two will cover Communicate and Collaborate.
Do you have a mission statement? My mission statement at Arlington Middle is below.
Researching and developing a mission statement for your library will help you articulate and focus on what’s most important.
Can you give an elevator speech about your library? If you were caught in an elevator or the grocery store line with the superintendent or school board chair, could you quickly and positively articulate what’s going on in your library in terms of student impact? Being prepared for those chance encounters is a golden opportunity. It could even lay the groundwork for requesting money or resources at a later time.
Look at your library’s web page. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend creating one. Your page should have this basic info about your library: policies (when students can visit, how many books they can check out), hours, access to the library’s catalog and any databases or other content you purchase. Include links to TEL and highlight World Book or any other encyclopedias your students can access digitally. You can choose to include helpful homework sites or recommendations for reading or info for parents. Keep your web page current. If it still has publicity for the book fair that took place 2 months ago, it needs to be updated.
Once you have a web page, make sure it can be easily accessed. Use a URL shortener for your link and share that easier link everywhere: bookmarks, flyers, email, newsletters. Two good sources are Bit.ly.com or tinyURL.com. At Collierville High, I customized our link to be bit.ly.com/DragonLibrary (Link no longer active)
If your PTA does a newsletter, either print or virtual, contribute to it on a regular basis. Find out who is in charge and volunteer to submit articles. Some topics you could write about include: importance of reading/suggested books; digital citizenship; helpful info for parents; upcoming events or emphases in the library. You could even write a post on how to ethically find pictures for class projects! Include links to helpful sites like these:
Be creative in your communication with faculty and staff. My experience is that lengthy emails get ignored. Instead, focus on individual teachers: “This book (article, web tool…) made me think of you.” I also utilized Bath Readers taped to the inside door of the staff bathrooms to take advantage of that captive audience. I used colorful paper (look at an office or discount store for bordered papers or just use bright solid colors) and big type to share news, a blurb about library resources, quotes about reading or teaching, etc. A good way to start is to post this infographic Tiffany Whitehead created, giving her credit of course.
One of the ways you can share with your staff is to make them aware of sources they might not know about otherwise. An example is the annual list of AASL Best Digital Tools: http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards/best This year’s list has several great tools for Social Studies. It also is where I found out about Wakelet, which I’ve used to curate extra resources for this article. https://wke.lt/w/s/YrwF0Z You could use Wakelet or Symbaloo or Follett Collections or Live Binder or the tool of your choice to curate resources for your teachers and students. Use Quick-Time to make how-to videos to show people how to access and use your resources and provide links to these videos on your web site or through Google docs or however your school shares resources.
How can you communicate to your entire school? When you write school announcements, refer to yourself as “your friendly librarian”. Use colorful flyers (big type on solid bright colors) above school water fountains or outside restrooms where students line up. Make flyers for teachers to post in their classrooms. Bulletin boards inside and outside the library can be useful if they are changed frequently. Include the link to your web page, where you have posted more detailed info.
We need to constantly remind ourselves: You are NOT an island waiting for the school to discover your treasures. That’s how libraries and librarians become irrelevant.
How can we collaborate purposefully? Find out what classes are doing and think of ways you can make an impact at that intersection. You can do this by attending PLC meetings regularly, reading teacher web sites to see what they’re covering, finding one person or grade to begin, looking at the TN curriculum site, focusing on new teachers who could benefit from a partner. The new TN Social Studies Standards could provide a great place to begin collaboration efforts. And please think outside the traditional English/Language Arts possibilities. Curate some great resources for your art teachers. Find some good things for the new class that is being offered at your high school—they often don’t have many resources and would appreciate your remembering them. I got a preview on a print reference book on Economics with digital access and shared it with one teacher. He shared with others in his department, and we purchased it at their recommendation. It’s now being used as one of the main resources for that class.
As mentioned in the Communicate Creatively section above, curation of resources for teachers can be very helpful. In addition to the digital resources mentioned there, you can make a basket or box of print materials for a class to use.
Shine in areas where you can be the expert, for example digital citizenship or copyright and citation. Make a list of sites for ethically using photos for class projects. Present on this at a faculty meeting. At the request of two junior English teachers, Katie Cozzens and I made a video for their students on how to correctly format a formal paper. Adding our voices to this instruction and making the video accessible to students when they needed it provided a great opportunity for collaboration. Working with a content-area teacher to help students read and create infographics could be a place to begin collaboration. Or look at the AASL Best Digital Tools and think of a way you could use one to collaborate with a specific teacher, grade or department. http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards/best
Make sure your efforts to collaborate are offered in the humble spirit of “We’re all in this together for the students!” And it doesn’t hurt to occasionally offer treats to your faculty: coffee, a hot chocolate bar with toppings, coloring pages for exam weeks, etc.
If you have an especially memorable collaboration with a teacher, please consider nominating him or her for TASL’s Teacher Collaboration Award. And volunteer to write about it for TASL TALKS so others can benefit.
Next Time: The Final 3 C’s
Karen Haggard retired in May after 16 years as a school librarian in TN (and a few years as a public librarian in at least 3 different states.) She is enjoying the time to read and to pursue her love of quilting, usually while listening to an audio book. She volunteers 2 mornings a week with Arise to Read, helping 2nd graders learn sight words to improve their reading skills. And she loves being near her family, especially being able to recommend books to the youngest members.