I chose to interview a librarian in my district who serves a similar Early Childhood population. My visit to her library was helpful and informative!
Question 1: As a school librarian, what is your role in teaching and learning?
Answer: As a school librarian, my role in teaching and learning is to provide a role model to teachers as we read aloud, do shared readings with big books, and provide opportunities to engage in literacy. For students, we are also modeling the clear expectations of interacting with print or digital reading. For everyone, we are creating a space in the school where everyone can be successful and happy.
Question 2: As a school librarian, what is your role in promoting literacy and reading?
Answer: As a school librarian, my role in promoting literacy and reading is to engage students, teachers and families. I want every student to love books and know that the library is a safe and magical place. I want teachers to see the library as a resource for their instruction in their classrooms. I want families to feel welcome to use the library all day as they look for literacy support at home. I spend a great deal of time at the beginning of the year on book care and simple how-tos.
Question 3: How do you help your students to build life-long learning skills?
Answer: I believe that READING is at the heart of everything we do. Although most of our families have few, if any books in their homes, we teach the families about the value of reading books together. We encourage the caregivers to come to the library to check out books. We host parent workshops for our moms and dads to give them ideas on how to do a picture walk, how to ask questions, how to retell the story, and how to do simple activities with their children at home. For the students, it is simply helping them to fall in love with books. I also provide free books to our students to “take home and keep forever” four times a year. This helps our students begin to create their at home libraries with books they have self-selected during our distributions.
Question 4: What tips do you have for school library program management?
Answer: I like for the management to be simple. Here are a few examples:
- We have young children, so we place book characters on the top of the book shelves to help the students find the books about Pete the Cat, Clifford, Curious George, Knuffle Bunny, etc.
- Our students select a book to check out every week. The students place their name card in the library pocket so we know who has which book. We scan the students ID and the book barcode as we check out books.
- We pickup books in a rolling cart placed outside each classroom the day before their designated library day so that our library time is not wasted on checking in books.
- We keep our library time active with simple fingerplays, nursery rhymes, songs, and movement.
- We keep a routine in the library every week. The students know what to do after about 4 weeks of repeating the routine.
Question 5: What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a school librarian?
Anwer: The most difficult part of being a school librarian is the many hats we wear. We always provide an extra pair of hands from early morning/after school duty to leading school fundraisers to providing professional development to handing out t-shirts to sponsoring student clubs to being the technology fixer upper. We also know ALL of the students in the building, so sometimes we are asked to comfort a crying child or to support a parent in need. Lots to do all of the time!
My interview with Mrs. Graham was conducted both in person and through email. Because we are both working at an Early Childhood (only) campus, I asked to come and visit her library. Our situation is somewhat a-typical, and it was helpful to see someone with a similar student population in action. She has created a wonderfully welcoming space for young learners. After getting to know her, it is evident that she is dedicated to the school and helps out in many different ways, including places other than the library.
Mrs. Graham clearly enjoys reading, and wants to promote a love of reading in everyone. She showed me that is the base and starting point for everything she does as the school’s librarian. She keeps library time engaging for her young students and works with teachers.
But it does not stop there. I was also able to see the corner of the library that she has set up with materials of all kinds in English and Spanish for the parents to check out at any time. She described the trainings that she and the school’s Parent Support Specialist as well as the Instructional Coach have worked together to provide for the families. I was struck by the fact that she also gives a book away for students to keep home at least four times a school year. My school has budgeted for a specific organization to do that two times a year, and after my visit to her campus I resolved to increase that to at least four times a year for my students as well. I have already begun to work on how to make that happen.
She was also able to show me the management tips that she mentioned above. Mrs. Graham has worked to ensure that she maximizes her time with the students by keeping things like returning and checking out books running as smoothly as possible. In addition, she lays out clear expectations for the students as well as for the teachers while they are in the library.