Guest Post: Your School’s Hidden Treasure
by Juliann Terrell, Media Specialist and Blogger at CookingWithMom
Most schools have them. Those people who live in the Media Center who just look like they’re hanging out most of the time. Well they don’t just hang out, but do you really know what they do? Although many people find those Media Center inhabitants (librarians) a dying breed, we still have a lot left to give and we rarely fit in those boxes that you put us in. In the last (cough) ten years of being in the Media Center, I’ve learned that many of the things that I thought a librarian did- like check out and shelve books- are really a small portion of what your librarian/teacher/Media Specialist does and very little of them are actually things I learned in library school. Yes, you have to go to school to be a librarian…So lucky for you, I’m here to help enlighten you about what’s really going.
- They know your kids. Perhaps, the greatest part of my job is that I get to know who my students are. I know what books they like, their personalities, their silly quirks – if you get your class roster the beginning of the year – I can help with some insight- just sayin’…And if you’re this librarian- you have the innate ability to know their names pretty quickly.
- The books on the shelves. Sure they look full, but librarians through the years have a carefully crafted plan to make sure that the books you need to support the curriculum (yes, I have to know ALL the curriculum!) are on the shelves. As soon as I get them up-to-date, the older ones have to be weeded out to make room for newer one. It’s a never-ending process. Don’t get me started on inventorying them all. (eye roll…) I also know what books we have and what ones we don’t, many times without having to consult the catalog. I also know author’s names and titles with little prompting, although if you came up to me with one tomorrow- well all bets are off.
- The resources, oh, the resources. I am an information junkie. If someone says something interesting- I have to know more. I have my hand in just about every library resource available. It’s my job, actually one of my favorite parts, to connect you to the resource you need. My dad used to joke with me about the fact that I was a librarian meant that I knew everything, to which I replied, “I may not know everything, but I certainly know how to find it!” It’s the mantra I carry into my every day, if I don’t have something you need, I’ll do my best to find out how to get it to you.
- If Classroom Teachers are the Lead Actors/Actresses, then the Media Specialist is a supporting one. I embrace this role wholeheartedly. Managing the reading program for nearly 800 students- running contests, The Book Fair, coordinating prizes and displays, organizing reading events and programs, hosting your students for check-out and other reading needs, listening to their very vague descriptions of books and trying to decipher them, troubleshooting password and testing issues with our reading programming, racking my brain on how to get you to get in the library, and, AND, AND… the list could go on. I also just like to read to your kids. Sharing stories, asking questions, listening to their ideas and wonderings it’s pretty much the bread to my butter.
- Planning Lessons. If you didn’t know: I love to collaborate! My role is to support you in your classroom needs. If you need extra support on citing sources or your class wants to explore primary resources or if you need a little help with a research project- I AM HERE! I love the challenge of learning and preparing lessons on new topics every year AND I love teaching the same ones year in and out with different students. I just like to have your kids in the library because my hope is once I get them there- they’re hooked on the wonder inside those walls.
- Space to Create. The library is also a place to create. Tinker Lab has become a major part of my weekly lessons and I absolutely love it. To watch students transform from individuals to team players- to allow them the space to create, well it’s amazing. If you don’t have one of these at your school- you need one. You also need a librarian who’s not afraid of a little messy clutter and those of you who work with me well, you know I’m not at all afraid of it. There’s just genius under there!
- The Things You See on Your TV. The morning announcements – the scrolling announcements- the videos you watch – bus call. All me- not to mention the script writing, the editing, the taping, and on and on- you get the picture. This has become part of the new face of a librarian- a way to disseminate information. Oh let’s not forget the how-to /instructional videos.
- The Knower of All Miscellaneous Things. The laminator- cold and hot. The poster maker- the copier (occasionally). Yearbook, EClass, Symbaloos, various tech tools, how to fix a broken book, and a million other things. Teaching you how to use them all. If I don’t know about it- I’ll figure it out.
- A key component to every Media Specialist’s repertoire is flexibility. It pretty much has to be my middle name. Last minute lesson changes, laminator’s out of film, a video that needs to be shot and aired by tomorrow, and a million other ones- if I am being honest, I love some of those things more than others, but I do love doing them because it means I’m supporting you and if I can take anything off your plate, I am happy to do it.
- The real librarian is my clerk. She is the glue that holds the library together. She mans the fort in the mornings during News Show, well, really most of the day. The books are where they are supposed to be and the new books get catalogued fast because of her. She’s constantly managing AR requests, Yearbook photos, and tending to our student’s every library need. She keeps me together and if anyone is as lucky as I am to have a clerk as wonderful as her, well… they hit the jackpot. Together, we make one heck of a team.
This list just touches the surface of what a librarian may do in a day. For me, the heart of the matter is my need to create relationships with my students- a lot of my day is engaging with them and serving them in the best way I know how. It’s actually the best part. I am genuinely happy to see each and every one of the walk through my door. To that end, you are an extension of them- you are the people helping to mold them into the people they become and of that I am in awe. Basically what I am saying is, you should know me (or the me at your school). Together we can make the students that drive us the craziest in our classrooms today into the future scientists, lawyers, leaders, and maybe even teachers of tomorrow. You’ll never be disappointed having the librarian (yes it’s okay that you call me that) in your back pocket – she/he is a valuable resource that you just may never have known you needed.