Thursday, July 29, 2010

Faculty Book Club

When I began my new Upper School library position in Dallas, Texas last year I knew I had to develop relationships with the US staff. The US was relatively young and had NO previous library program so I knew it would be a challenge to quickly bond with this small cohesive group. After trying many techniques I fell into a situation where someone suggested a faculty book club. I was ready to try anything and thus planned our first meeting. The room was full and everyone looked to me for the club’s criteria. As the facilitator of the US library, I decided it was our club and solicited suggestions and before the end of the meeting we had a plan in place. Simple as the plan was, it worked wonderfully and here is how we proceeded.

1. Everyone in the US was invited to particiapte in the book club and make suggestions of books to discuss. Genres to consider would include fiction, nonfiction, biography, poetry, short stories, and young adult material.

2. A smaller group randomly picked titles once all the suggestions were submitted.

3. Monthly meetings were scheduled around school activities either during lunch or after school. During our last lunch meeting I coordinated ordering food from a local deli.

4. The monthly discussion groups were lead by the person making the book suggestion and no one lead more than one group.

5. The book club schedule was posted on the library’s website, mentioned in the monthly library newsletters, and reminders were emailed to all faculty as meeting dates approached.

6. I obtained a copy of all the books for the US library collection.

7. As the dates approached I coordinated refreshments with the group discussion leader.

8. Thank you notes went out to those who volunteered to undertake a discussion group.

9. The actual meetings were relaxed, fun and mentally exhilarating.

Key components for success included a variety of book suggestions to entice many, a fun and relaxing atmosphere, promotion and publication and sincere gratitude for those who volunteered.

I hope to continue this tradition in my new school library position for this coming year. I was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming success of the faculty book club and hope others find the time to do the same.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Few Summer Tips for a School Librarian

The new school year is just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about getting back into your regular work routine. Listed are some tips for a school librarian as your vacation comes to a conclusion.

1. Start browsing through your reader, think about your blog, add a few good tweets to twitter, update your Shelfari account and at least make sure you have the correct logins to all other accounts.

2. Clean your house, cook and freeze some meals, mow the yard and work in the garden. This way when you come home from school exhausted those first few days, you won’t be concerned with domestic chores.

3. Have a ME day. Make an appointment at the spa, get your nails done, play a round of golf or shop til you drop. Just take some TLC time for yourself before the school year starts.

4. Get rid of last year’s baggage. Last year is behind you so get over it and proceed on with the new school year.

5. Return from your trips at least 2-3 days before the school year starts. This will give you a few days to relax and get ready for the adventures of a new year.

6. Pull out your positive attitude and smile. If you have put the positive vibes and attitude away for the summer get it out and practice smiling and enjoying life a few weeks before school starts.

7. Start an exercise program. Take a walk, ride a bike, jog, join a water aerobics class or get involved with an activity that gets your heart rate up. Begin with a simple plan and incorporate it into your daily schedule.

8. Start getting up at your regular work time at least a week before school starts. This way getting back into your routine won’t be such a shock to your body.

9. Start something new. Look into starting a new home project such as a home recycling program, a family blog, plant an herbal garden or any other innovative venture. This might inspire you to begin new and exciting undertakings at school in the coming year.

10. If you hate your job, dislike the students, are annoyed by the faculty and despise your administration do everyone a favor and resign!

11. Remember a happy healthy librarian is essential for a positive productive school library program.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Library Orientation

I have hesitated to voice my opinion on library orientation for years and was so relived to find through my Google Reader that others are of the same opinion. My co-librarian and I spent almost 3 solid weeks (each semester due to block scheduling) on library orientation with the freshmen class every year. We prepared the famous PowerPoint presentation and spent roughly 25 minutes narrating the policies and procedures of our very large library program. The rest of the block was spent on the grand tour and time was allotted to check out books. I ask myself why? When we moved the school to a new location and I lost my co-librarian I knew I could not spend that time on orientation and serve the school properly. So what did I do? As each class came into research, checkout books, use the computers, etc. I would briefly highlight any policies I felt were necessary for that visit. The student handbook included the library policies and I kept a copy close to the circulation desk in case it was ever needed. In the seven years that I spent as the sole librarian in a high school of about 2400 students, I can only remember a handful of times that I had a student borrow it to reacquaint themselves with our rules. I say stop library orientation in isolation. Use each and every opportunity to implement professional development with either students or faculty members in the library than step back and watch them proceed. Facilitate the process in guiding your school community in using the skills you have taught as life-longer learners.
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