In order to answer this question, firstly you must have ascertained your school libraries priorities.
Dianne Oberg points out the invisibility of the media specialist (teacher librarian) in her article and suggests libraries worked better where there were clear outcomes. It was also made clear that teachers had to be involved in the library program and to provide evidence of this.
The first step is to therefore have a duty statement for the librarian. This way all members of the school community can be aware of the role of the librarian and there is no confusion. A principal, school executive or a school board needs to decide on this role.
I would like to think of the school library under three main headings:
- The library as a place of literacy;
- The library as a place of information literacy; and
- The library as a safe place.
While a library is not contained to this, this might be a good place to start. How then to communicate priorities under these headings?
The library as a place of literacy
Once a week an email could be sent stating the new items accessioned into the library. Teachers can send suggestions to the library with books or topics they are interested in. Teacher librarians can join online forums to find out about new texts available. This is suggestion by Valenza in her Manifesto. I have just joined the ACT Teacher Librarian Network and am receiving numerous emails a day with questions and answers from teacher librarians across the ACT. Literacy Coordinators can use library space if they have to work one-on-one with students rather than in the classroom. Students could suggest novels either electronically or in writing in the library.
One of the suggestions in made in last week’s blog is very valid for this topic and falls both under literacy and information literacy. That is the suggestion that the Teacher Librarian attend faculty meetings. This gives the librarian the chance to meet all staff, offer services and take feedback. This makes extending library services very clear and palatable. Lamb’s Palette in last week’s reading identified that the teacher librarian must be a people person and able to communicate. This is essential here. This aids professional discussion.
The library as a place of information literacy
One of my hobbies is looking at new technologies available. I would send out a weekly email to staff regarding what I have discovered that week. I could post this in a blog as well, but emailing to staff might be more effective as teachers might not check a blog on a regular basis whereas they do check their emails. This email could include new physical technologies and their application in the classroom, new apps that aid with education or websites that have been suggested as useful for a particular faculty.
Taping documentaries from television and keeping these in the library could also aid teachers. I could suggest documentaries for teachers on a particular subject and have these available or be able to look up on a site like Enhance TV to see what could be ordered.
A resource folder on a common drive could also be a useful way of letting teachers know how the library can assist. As well as assisting students coming to the library doing their assignments and with referencing this could aid teachers in cross curricular projects.
The library as a safe place
Many students use the library as a ‘safe place’. It is somewhere they can go before school if they arrive early and seek refuge if the school oval is not somewhere they want to be. One school I worked in also had the library open after school for an hour which assisted parents with a later pickup as well as the librarian available for teachers and students (students had to have a permission note to stay for this hour). Teachers often used this time to drop in for an informal chat with the librarian knowing they would be there. Teacher Librarians need to make opening hours clear to staff, students and parents.
A ‘Book week’ is another way of promoting the library for students. Trivia Quizzes with prizes or reading groups could be held allowing for students to come to the library and feel comfortable. Computers could be available for general internet usage and, depending on the resources available, gaming computers available.
A comfortable environment is essential for the school library and would involve desks for study, computer laboratory book shelves, some couches and a borrowing desk should be available.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators,Teacher Librarian; 33, 3; ProQuest Central pg. 13
Valenza, J. (2010) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/ Accessed 18/03/2013