Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What makes a school library GREAT?

I think about this a lot--how to achieve GREATNESS for my library.
Okay, according to Pottermore I am a Slytherin.
And...I am Head of Slytherin House in our HS MAGIC club.
(so this is where I mention Merlin was in Slytherin, Snape was actually a hero, and we are not all evil, btw)

So GREATNESS is important to me...but *mostly* I ponder this in terms of how can best propel my library into heights of awesomeness for my patrons.  ;)

Here are 5 thoughts of MANY on this topic. Please know that I put these out into the universe NOT to bash anyone who is not doing these things, or who disagree with me, but rather to work out my thoughts and invite discussion that can hopefully make us ALL better.
I am not yet GREAT, but I am committed to working my bootie off to get there, y'all.
  1. Be open.  Literally.  Open the library doors---best if it happens the very first day of school, but I get that sometimes you have no control of that.  If you DO have control over it, then by all means open the library for circulation day one even if that means you are doing checkouts old-school by hand and adding them to the computer later. Not only does being closed give the opportunity for resentment to build from the classroom teachers who are expected to be on point day one (and if you want to be seen as a member of the instructional team it is good to NOT build resentments) but it is just better for our kids if we are ready to roll day one. If we are going to soapbox about how important school libraries are then OPEN UP and show the world just how awesome we are. If you aren't opening up the library for weeks---why?
  2. Be open.  To new ideas. To change. To shift. To listening. To thinking outside the box.
  3. Know your priorities and live them. If you are there to support the curriculum then do everything in your power to make that happen.  If you are there to create a literary safe haven for kids then DO it.  I know we are all there for many reasons, but pick a focus and go for it. None of us should be there just to make a mean cheese dip on potluck day. 
  4. Don't get so consumed by the "library things" that you forget we are in a service industry.  We are a concierge business, friends.  I know we want the books shelved, but take a step back and remember why we have this amazing job---the people we serve need us. BREATHE deeply and remember that honestly----if you aren't helping the people WANT to be there it won't matter that the books are all shelved before you go home, or if everyone has the Dewey Decimal system memorized.
  5. Love your calling & have FUN.  If you are no longer loving the library life seek the reasons why and make changes, if necessary. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut, and it is too easy to become a complainer. If you see this happening to you, then by all means FIX IT. 
Thoughts?  What are the ways in which you make your library GREAT?  I'd love to hear from you.


  1. I am a classroom teacher, not a teacher-librarian, but your words ring true to me. I like the way you have filled this piece with your voice and your love of what you do comes through.

  2. I am a classroom teacher, not a teacher-librarian, but your words ring true to me. I like the way you have filled this piece with your voice and your love of what you do comes through.

  3. May I also add Have A Librarian! The last two years I taught our library was run by the computer ed teacher during periods when he didn't have a class and aides the other times. Not a good situation.

    1. excellent point! YES! we need LIBRARIANS in the LIBRARY! :)

  4. I love all your points! We are definitely open to teachers on day negative eleven, and spent our first week taking headshots of every single student on campus--so technically, they were in the library! We start checkout week two, mostly because of the photo-taking and that it takes that long to work the kinks out of the first draft of the schedule. (We're already on the second draft, lol!) I did stick to my guns once already and said no to an event that would have closed the library for the third out of four days--it needs to be open to students as much as possible! And I love being of service to our learning community, finding just the right materials for them. Huzzah for librarians!

  5. A great list! Having fun might be first though. I enjoyed my 2 years in the library - reading to and sharing books was the most enjoyable.

    1. :) in no particular order! thank you--and the reading and sharing of books is def. a highlight!