Being a School Librarian and Why I am Good at What I Do

I just started my 26th year as a school librarian. and lately, I have been reflecting on my work. I worked for 12 years with grades K-6 and the last 13 with grades 6-12. I have supervised several pre-service librarians and talked to many library science students over the years for their class assignments. One of the major reasons that I think that I am good at what I do is because I have been doing it a long time. I am not one of those teachers who learned how to teach one way and have kept at it the exact same way year after year. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I have tried to keep up with current best practices throughout my career. Since I have taught from pre-kindergarten through high school, in terms of skills, I know where the kids came from and where they need to go before they graduate. A lot of this I have learned through experience and the many years I have been teaching. In a recent social media post on a librarian group, a librarian asked others to post about the class that provided the most help for them as a librarian and what class they didn't have but needed. I laughed when I read that. I have not been in school since 1993 when I finished my +30 hours beyond my master's degree. Yes, I learned a lot from my professors while in graduate school, but I am way beyond that. I have learned so much more from the mentors that I have had over the last 25 years and at the many, many conferences that I have attended.

Another reason that I think that I am good at what I do is because I know how to collaborate. As a librarian, it is crucial that I work closely with the teachers in my building. For me to teach information literacy skills to the students, I need to incorporate what is being taught in the classroom into what I teach in the library. With ten years in my building, I have developed great relationships with my teachers who come to me when they know that what I can do will support what they are teaching. I make sure new teachers at my school know that I am willing and available to work with them, too. This has been a lot of fun because I don't teach in isolation, and I get to partner with some outstanding teachers. I have learned a lot from them over the years especially in English and science.

One thing that my husband may disagree with is my ability to listen. Okay, I do hear him, but I don't always listen. At work, it is critical that I listen. As I build a collection that serves my patrons, I need to know what the kids are reading and want to read, and I need to know what kind of information that the teachers are requiring the students to find. If you walked among the stacks of my library, you would see the print collection heavy in fiction. I have done that on purpose because when the students chose to read for pleasure, they want books in print. As I add to the reference and non-fiction collection, I am buying more and more electronic resources. Our school has a one to one laptop program, so I know that all of my students have computer access.

I spent twenty years working at the elementary level before I graduated to middle and high. I understood how to best serve the little ones. When I switched levels, I got to work at a school with one of my favorite librarians who has amazing rapport with teenagers. I learned so much from her and how to manage this age group. I now know that I love working with the older students. I think another aspect of my personality that works very well in my position is the fact that I really like the kids. I love the idea of teaching them over seven years and watching them mature. I like the idea of having the responsibility of getting them ready for next phase, which at my school is college. I like talking and being with the tweens and teens. They keep me young.

Another area that is one of my gifts is my strength in using technology. This ties in very closely with my interest in lifelong learning. I finished graduate school in the early 90's. I certainly used computers back then, but the possiblities of technology that can be utilized in the classroom has grown exponentially since then. I may be on the older side, but I have harnessed social media and many electronic tools to get my job done. I am often asked how I learned to use computers. Mostly, I taught myself because there were no classes available. I also have learned so much from others both adult and student alike.

Lastly, I am a really good thief. I don't consider myself that smart, but I am really good at seeing what other librarians or teachers are doing and taking their ideas and modifying them to fit my situation. So many people out there are offering top-notch programs in their libraries and sharing their programs via blogs and social media. This sharing has offered me a chance to develop my own top-notch program. I use this blog to share what I do with my patrons, and it is very fulfilling to hear back from other librarians who have found what I do can be modified for their library. Let the sharing begin because it works both ways.

The reason that I think this is an important post to write is not because I want to brag on myself, but because I think reflecting on our strengths and even weaknesses can help us be better at our jobs. I want to continue to work towards building the best library that I can. Making changes and improving what I do on a daily basis makes my job interesting and exciting every single day. I like going to work and hanging out with teenagers, and though many of my friends talk of retirement, not me. I plan to be around for as long as I can. 


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  2. This was good for me to read as I consider a change of careers. Our county is getting rid of school libraries and my job has diminished as a librarian as my other non-library-related roles increase.


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