The 4 R’s of Summer

Ahh, summer. The time to actually sleep in, spend time with family members, travel, read, and you know, get ready for next school year. Gone are the days of sitting in rush hour traffic (for me, at least!) and actually enjoying a cup of tea on the couch, with a cat snuggled nearby. And it is wonderful.

I always have a to-do list – mental or listed on paper – of all the things I want to get done over the summer. The vast majority get done, but there are always a few things I just don’t get around to doing. This year, my summer will be shaped around the 4 R’s: Reading, Relaxing, Reflecting, and Researching.

Reading 

Let’s face it: one of the reasons most librarians (including me!) entered the profession is because we enjoy reading. This is usually the time I read titles for next year, titles that I didn’t have a chance to read during the past school year, or gasp! an actual grown up book. I absolutely love that part of my job is reading. Whether at the beach, on your couch, out on the deck, traveling, or laying in bed, there is always a great place – and title! – to read over the summer. Sometimes there can be too many options for what titles to read in such a short amount of time. I usually have a theme; for a while, I did author studies, reading as many books as I could of one particular author. This is how I massively expanded my love for Walter Dean Myers, Lois Lowry, and Sharon Creech, to name a few. You may consider focusing on awards lists, a particular genre, or crowdsourcing from your students and/or staff good recommendations. This year, I’m using the theme “Books with Rave Reviews that I Haven’t Gotten Around to Yet.” You know, the ones where you pick up a book to recommend but you always have to include the phrase, “I’ve heard this one is excellent,” yet deep inside you know you can’t booktalk it well because you haven’t read it yet. Yep, that’s my theme this summer. What’s yours?

Relaxing

Yes! What summer is for. Take some time to enjoy things that aren’t related to the profession. See a movie or five. Travel – even to a local museum or nearby city you haven’t visited! Catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Work on a hobby you neglect during the school year (mine will be focusing on building a website for my budding photography business). There are so many websites for free or cheap things to do virtually everywhere. Take this time to catch up on real life. I always try to plan just enough activities to anticipate, yet have plenty of down time. Our lives are busy enough during the school year! 

Reflecting

Especially right at the end of the school year, take time to think about your library’s (or your!) successes this year. What went well? What didn’t go as well as you’d planned? Did you see a need somewhere during the school year that your library can help support? Look at any data your library has collected. What does that data tell you, and how can you act on that data to improve the function of your library?

My successes included weeding my entire nonfiction collection (see this post here) and beginning to plan a makerspace. Things that didn’t go as well as planned included not meeting my goal of attending more department/grade level meetings. I’ve got to get on that for next year! A need I saw this year was making my library more relevant to my students and changing the perspective that all we do is check out books. Next year, with the help of our makerspace and continuing to revitalize some existing programs, I’m hoping that perspective will begin to change. Looking and reflecting on my library’s data will be its own blog post later this summer!

Researching

We do lots of research for students, staff, and administration during the school year. Summer is the time when we can really devote to researching for ourselves and our library programs. Catch up on ALA and AASL’s websites, or their magazines if you’re a member. Check out Pinterest; just type in middle school library (or whatever level you are) and just see what comes up. You’ll be amazed with the creativity you’ll find on that site! (and if you have your own account on Pinterest, feel free to follow me! I’m crafty1013.)

Are you wanting to start an initiative but need some data or specific ideas for how to begin? Summer is a great time for that (and I promise, unless you have summer hours at your library, no one will interrupt your research to check out books or with a reference question!). One of my favorite things to research over the summer is other schools’ websites. Whether in your own county – or country! – looking at other sites’ layouts and features will give you great ideas to improve your own site. Just google “middle school” AND library AND site to get a plethora of possibilities. 

So, what are you doing this summer? Hopefully some of your plans will include these 4 R’s: reading, relaxing, reflecting, and researching. Happy Summer!

– Rachel

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