Pretty sure I’m in the majority when I say I do my best to welcome my students into the library at the beginning of the year. There’s bulletin boards, displays, intros to new programs, and so much more! I also do my best to welcome my staff. Not sure about you, but I’m constantly trying to reinforce to my staff that the library is not the same place at the library we experienced when we were kids. Unless there is testing, I never SHH my students. We are more than just for checkout. So I created two things for back to school this year that I wanted to share with you: one is specifically for new staff and the other is for both staff and students.
For new staff, I always make it a point to work with the lead mentor in my school to be sure I get a few minutes at the New Teacher Orientation to talk about the library. I talk about programs, what’s available to them, and my co-librarian talks about the equipment teachers can get from the library. Last year I decided to create an infographic to show all of this – and checked with the lead mentor to be sure I printed enough copies on cardstock and in color so that they could hang it up in their room for easy reference. I used Piktochart to create it, but you could always create a similar flyer using whatever publishing system you like:
The other item that is new this year I created using PowerPoint. As a teacher, I was all about the posters in my classroom. I bought at least one new one each year, and I used them to convey how I wanted my students to feel in my classroom. Welcomed. Loved. Taken care of. With this new creation (below), I wanted to reinforce that the library isn’t just a place you have to be silent to just check out books. With the addition of our new makerspace this year, and to attempt to create the understanding that the library is really a place of collaboration and where you can learn more about anything, including yourself, I wanted to put all of my ideas in one place. I crowdsourced most of these words from my librarian friends on Facebook’s ALA Think Tank & Programming Group for Librarians (thanks, everyone!) and this is what I came up with. Feel free to use this link if you would like to download it yourself.
My plans are to post this on our library’s website and also ask my county’s printing services to blow it up into a big poster. Not sure if it’s going to go on the wall outside of my library, on the circulation desk, or on a wall inside the library somewhere. I haven’t figured that part out yet. All I know is that both my students and my staff need to know what is expected of them in the library. They should expect to be themselves. They should expect that it is a safe space to learn and just be. They should expect that they will always be welcomed and we are there to help them with anything, all the time. Hopefully this new creation will help both staff and students feel these things about their library. After all, if our users don’t feel like they belong, they’re not going to show up. And if they don’t show up, in the words of Gail Dickinson, the library just becomes a really large storage unit of books. Let’s not be a storage unit this year. Let’s be the place everyone wants to be. Our users deserve a place in the school that is truly theirs, and it is our job as librarians to make it that way.
Happy back to school, friends. 🙂