"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

26 September 2014

A Day in the Life of a School Librarian

I have had a few (not many, but a few) people wonder if I spend my whole day sitting at my desk reading books.  Any fellow school librarians (or any librarians, for that matter) are chuckling as they read this, because they know that librarians are, unfortunately, the last ones to get to sit and read, especially at work. I always carry a book with me, so the students can see that I do value reading, but I often carry the same book to and from work for an entire week and only read a few pages at home when I have a spare moment or two.

So, for those of you who wonder what in the world a school librarian does all day, here's a snapshot of a typical day, at least for me:

7:20 AM: I arrive at school.  Technically, my day doesn't start for another ten minutes, but if it's cold or raining outside, I don't like to leave the kids outside waiting for classrooms to open, so I'll open the library as soon as I get to school.  I turn on my computer and spend the next forty minutes checking books in, checking books out, making recommendations, and chatting with the students who are waiting for school to start.  I typically have 30 or so students in the library first thing in the morning.

8:00 AM: First period starts.  I use this time to shelve any returned books and straighten the books still on the shelves, as they have been ravaged by the students before school. Then I double-check my [still unfinished] to-do list from the day before and make sure there aren't any important emails to reply to.  If any classes are coming to visit the library [and there usually are at least two], I prepare some books to booktalk to them so they have an idea of the different types of books available.

Throughout the day, I answer my phone, supervise children who need to make up tests, check out textbooks to new students, answer random teacher questions [no, I do not have a copy machine in the library, etc.], scour the internet for free books to give to my kids, complete parts of projects like dividing the library into genres or just cleaning each of the shelves since they can get pretty dusty throughout the year.  I also write book reviews, as I often receive free ARCs [advanced reader copies] of books in exchange for reviews.

11:00 AM: Seventh grade lunch. I make sure to run to the bathroom before the kids come, because once they are in the library I will be trapped for thirty minutes.  This is a repeat of the before-school time, except I can have up to 60 kids in the library at once, all checking books in and out, asking for recommendations, playing games, looking at old yearbooks, working on homework.  I work my circulation desk and also keep an eye on the kids to make sure any shenanigans don't get too out of hand.

11:40 AM: Seventh grad lunch is over.  I hurry to lock the library and run to the teachers' lounge to eat, if I'm lucky.  Sometimes a class is visiting during this in-between time, in which case I'll gulp down my lunch later.

12:10 PM: Eighth grade lunch.  Same as seventh grade, but bigger kids.

12:40 PM: Lunch is over! I quickly shelve returns and pick up any stray books, making sure the shelves are back in normal order and all the chairs are pushed in.  This is my time to search for more free books, apply for grants, write reviews, schedule any library visits, etc. etc. unless there is a class coming to the library.

2:50 PM: School is over for the day, but the library is still open.  I have a small crowd of kids who will come in to check out one last book before heading home.  A small group of boys has their own CCG [customizeable card game like Magic] they like to play, so I let them use one of the tables for as long as I am still at work. Some kids come in to do homework before they head home. Teachers may stop by with questions.  It's mostly fairly quiet.  I get the returns checked in and ready to shelve, make one last round of the room to pick up stray items and lock the doors, and make sure my to-do list is ready for the next day.

3:30 PM: If there are kids left in the library, I kick them out, then grab my lunch [hopefully I've had a chance to eat], the book I'm always in the middle of, and my car keys.  I lock the library and head home.  Perhaps tonight I'll have a chance to finish that next chapter in my book.

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