Friday, May 30, 2014

It takes a village to grow a librarian

It's the last day of school with students, and I'm two weeks away from (officially) ending my first year as a librarian.  We've been in such a rush in the library these last two weeks, trying to finish up student-related tasks and inventory, that I haven't had much time to be reflective.  But today being what it is, I want to slow down, really look at the students and families today, truly be present at the fifth grade graduation ceremony and for those hugs I've been getting in the hallways, soak in the details.

This is what's come to mind this morning, as I sip my coffee and prepare for the day:

  • I am incredibly grateful for the acceptance and support I've been shown by staff, students, and families at this new campus and new job.  It's not always easy for a learning community to adapt to a new program director, much less one with no prior experience.  They have lifted me up and carried me through this school year--thank you, learning community at Sommer!
  • I have been blessed by not one, but two fabulous library assistants this year.  Heather was my experienced, knowledgeable, patient assistant for the first semester, just the type a newbie librarian hopes to have.  Melinda is a lightning-quick learner, organizer extraordinaire, and full of great new ideas to make the program run more smoothly.  Both of them are such "people" people, that watching them interact with folks reminds me to get out of my head (as this Piscean is wont to do) and connect with our visitors and volunteers.  Thank you, ladies!
  • The librarians in our district are fortunate enough to meet with their level colleagues once a month, and are in constant contact via email.  It is truly like having a "collective brain" at my disposal, and they have never failed me when I am confused about a process or have questions about programming.  Sharing successes and failures benefits all of us, makes us better program directors, and has helped me grow by leaps and bounds.  Thank you, fellow librarians (yes, that includes Carlyn and Diane, too) of RRISD!
  • I am also in contact with librarians in our neighboring district and my professors from my MLS program, who supply me with ideas, book recommendations, and a lot of support when I've been exhausted and worried about fulfilling my duties.  Thank you, librarian friends and esteemed professors!
  • My friends in- and outside the circles of education, and most importantly, my family, have been nothing but positive about this career change of mine.  I'm sure my children think I live on the couch at home, since many nights that's where I'd end up, brain-numb from the beehive of activity in the library that day.  Thank you for putting up with my ramblings, rantings, and exhaustion this year, friends and family!
See, it does take a village to grow a librarian...I hope I helped the village grow a little bit too, this school year.  Looking forward to more fun in the library for many years to come!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

From the mouths of babes

I am a sucker for surveys.  I want to know what's on people's minds, especially those in my learning community.  Thanks to our district going all Google on us, making Google forms to elicit info from my patrons is easy-peasy.  I sent out a mid-year survey to my teachers to find out how their library experience was going for them (pretty well, then, whew!).  I have another survey for them ready to go, but will wait until after the inventory process before I send that one out.  

My latest survey is for the students.  After reassuring them that their answers were completely confidential, noted only by grade level, I directed them to our computer bank in the library to let me know their likes, dislikes, and suggestions for improvements to our program.  I am learning a lot from their answers--and surprised by how much their suggestions and my plans for improving the library program overlap.

Suggestion:  Show us where the scary books are, funny books are, etc.
Plan:  Highlighting a different genre each month

Suggestion:  Help students edit their writing and publish them for library use
Plan:  A section devoted to student writing

Suggestion:  The library doesn't have enough books; I'm reading the same ones over and over.
Plan:  Issue a genre-exploration challenge for those who are hesitant to expand their reading repertoire.

They shared a lot more--another surprise was how many chose to fill in the non-required open-ended questions.  Yes, I got the occasional response with "fart" in it...but the wealth of information I gleaned to tailor the library program for my primary patrons, the students, has given me a sense of direction and a lengthy to-do list to start planning for next year.

P.S.  I discovered a new-to-me tool in the options of the spreadsheet that the survey results dump into on my Google drive.  Under "Form", there is a  "Show summary of responses" option--and it generates pie charts and graphs of the form responses in bright colors, as well as prints out all the open-ended responses.  Great data to share with my administrators and staff!