Friday, 22 November 2013

A TL's philosophy after 5 years

During my first year in the library, I was fortunate to share the library with Carol, another teacher librarian.  My learning curve was steep, of course, but was aided greatly by having a veteran teacher librarian working beside me teaching me the ropes. It was invaluable to have someone to debrief with at the end of each day and Carol gave me many pointers along the way.

At the end of the year, my teacher librarian partner retired and gave me some advice:

1. Don't try to read the whole collection, just be sure to read a good cross section
2. Concentrate on your library program and make it yours.  It will take 5 years before you can start making wide sweeping changes to the program.
3. Don't get wrapped up in the library.  Eat lunch in the staff room.  Socialize. Make connections.
4. Be careful.  Don't give too much otherwise people will try to take advantage of you.
5. Advocate, advocate, advocate.  Be prepared to fight for your program.

It's been 5 years since Carol gave me that advice and it's taken me that long to realize that she was right.  I feel that I know my program and my collection well and now have a clear vision of what I what to accomplish.  My philosophy is that a combination of leadership, personality, balance, reading, and advocacy is key to a strong library program.  However, that belief is all for naught if my colleagues and my administration do not perceive the teacher librarian as being an integral and invaluable part of the school. 

I can talk and write about the importance of teacher librarians but as always, actions speak louder than words.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. Some sound advice. Bringing it to life within you and expressing it in practice is another matter. What is difficult is the paradox of roles a library serves. It's a public place that we all want to be accessible but it takes many systematic planning and supervisory actions each day to maintain it all because a library is as much an organic community of diverse people as it is a learning place. A librarian needs to be rather like a conductor or circus ringleader trusting everyone yet also directing people and resources with authority. If not, someone gets hurt, or something gets broken. Tough love. Kind dictator. Advocate advocate but not too much. Care care but look after yourself. A paradox. For this reason, I believe you are a school leader. Maybe not the heart or the brain but surely at least the pulmonary system breathing life into what can be a sterile exercise in curricula. Love your post. So glad you are reflecting and blogging and sharing just like Carol but now with a global audience. :-)