2 Things New School Librarians Need to Hear

I often hear new school librarians ask for advice from those of us who are a bit more seasoned.  I could list several things, but here are two major things that took me awhile to figure out.

new school librarians

Forget catalog perfection

When I started my first library job, I spent hours trying to clean up my catalog and make every record perfect.   It was like I was scared the library police would arrive one day to strip me of my MLIS.

I eventually realized no one else cares. As long as your catalog is searchable and the your students can find what they need, it is good enough.

Overdues are not a big deal

If you’re lucky enough to have assistants, let them be responsible for collecting overdues.   If you don’t have assistants, do your best to get overdues back, but don’t harass kids to the point where they’re afraid to run into you in the hallway.

Yes, it’s important that students learn responsibility, but your job title is not “Responsibility Officer” (at least I hope not).  Your job is to get students reading and learning.  Some students will return their books. Some won’t.  If you don’t get every book back, just consider it as a part of the cost of doing business.

What about you?  Are you a new librarian who has questions for us veterans?  If you’re more experienced, what advice would you give to a newbie?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, if you’re a new librarian looking for more advice on how to start your career on a positive note, check out my e-book, Help!  I’m a New School Librarian!

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5 thoughts on “2 Things New School Librarians Need to Hear

  1. I am in my second year alone in my high school library with the possibility of student aides. How do you prioritize? I find that I put textbooks, babysitting, putting out small files, and taking meeting notes for my administration all come before anything related to the library. Do you have any tips for changing this, or organizational tools that you love?

    • Hi Lily, I can definitely relate to feeling like you’re doing everything except library-related things!  It’s kind of like running a  business, isn’t it?  You’re only in your second year, so I would encourage you to be patient with yourself.  As you continue to work in libraries, you’ll develop routines and procedures that will go faster as you do them longer.  Also, it’s important to understand that there will be certain times of the year when you’ll have to spend more time on seasonal things like textbooks.  

      However, it sounds like it would be beneficial for you to be relieved of some of those non-library tasks.  I would start by tracking how you spend your time for a period of time.  I like this time tracking sheet from Life Your Way. http://printables.yourway.net/time-tracker/

      Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and bring the results from your time-tracking.  During the meeting, identify the top 2 or 3 library-related priorities.  If those priorities don’t match how you’re spending your time, you need to ask your supervisor to help you delegate those non-library related tasks or provide you with parent volunteers, student assistants, or hired help.  If your supervisor is unable or unwilling to provide some support, ask him (respectfully, of course) which areas he’d like you to cut back in.  If he insists that you can’t cut back anything, use your time-tracking sheet to show him that the numbers simply don’t add up.  You only have a certain number of hours in your work week, and you’re already using those up with the non-library related tasks.  This can be very effective when done respectfully and with a spirit of collegial common ground.  

      Finally, I’m a big advocate for planning.  Take a look at each week and block out time to work on your priorities.  I know librarians experience constant interruptions, so give yourself twice as much time as you think you’ll need and be realistic with what you can accomplish in one day.  

  2. I’m totally with you. I have decided to do the very best I can do with the time and resources I have. My principal wants students to enjoy books and could care less about the fine details, so I try to let some of that stuff go and just concentrate on the real reasons we’re there.

    • Exactly, Jocelyn.  There are so many little details that it would be so easy to get caught up with all of them and become business managers instead of teacher librarians.  We’ve got to stick with big picture thinking!

  3. Pingback: Resources for Cataloging School Library Materials | Deep Librarian

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