5 Cliches for New School Librarians

We’ve all rolled our eyes at cliched sayings. But they’re cliche because they’re true! Here are five cliches that might actually be helpful for new school librarians.

1. Take it slow.

Spend some time getting to know your school and your library before you make drastic changes. Your first semester is a good time to observe and notice.

2. Focus on your strengths.

Your first few months are a time to earn your coworkers’ and students’ confidence. Make sure they know how you can help them and what you can offer them. Don’t take on projects that require skills you don’t have yet.

3. Admit you don’t know it all.

Inspiring confidence in your students and co-workers requires transparency and honesty. If you’re asked a question to which you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know” and offer to try to find out.

4. Keep it simple.

You absorb a lot of new information during your first few weeks at a new job. It’s possible you may even feel a little overwhelmed. Don’t complicate your life by trying to implement complex programs or create a completely new curriculum. Stick with the basics and allow yourself time to reflect.

5. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

The great thing about school librarians is that we’re generous. We share our lesson plans, our collection development plans, and teaching tips. Take time look at what other librarians are doing. Check out lessons plans online. Read policies from other libraries. Read school library blogs (you’re already ahead of the game on that one!). You can find amazing examples, tutorials, or templates for almost any project you’ll undertake.

Can you think of any other cliches that might apply to new school librarians? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 Things New School Librarians Need to Know

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.

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.

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