Genrefying the Biography Section
Psst, you know that the biographies are the most boring part of the library, right?!
At least in my library, they get very little love. Except at project time, ‘cause for some reason EVERYONE does a darn bio project. But, that is a research issue for another day.
Our biographies, themselves are great, but our shelves are so packed with books that some weeding and dynamic shelving has been in order for some time.
In the process of preparing for the weeding and organization work, I uncovered Jess Golz’s ’ awesome biography genrefication project. That was the push I needed to get my bios in order and circulating!
AI in the School Library: Scarier Than "Google It"?
As school librarians, it's important for us to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in technology, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool that everyone is jumping to play with and experience.. AI is quickly becoming a part of our daily lives, (I’m looking at you Alexa users!) and it's important for school librarians to understand how it can be used to improve the library experience for students.
If you haven’t been hearing about the “chat” AI tools then its time to get up to speed.
My dad (a part-time retired HS teacher who teaches two senior electives) watched aghast, at a recent family dinner, as the AI app Genie wrote a detailed and coherent essay about a documentary he has his students watch and write about for class. It included specific references to the documentary tone, images and other elements that support the argument that it is subjective. Like many teachers, his response was one of disbelief and then concern about how he will ensure his students are creating authentic work. Rightfully so.
My sister (a small business owner) lauds the use of AI as a game changer for her work and cannot rave about it enough. And, as an aid to her business, says it is the best productivity too she has ever has used. The AI tool has saved her tons of time, just in the few weeks she has been using it. Specifically it has helped her reach out to local business who are related to her work, write social media posts, and connect with podcasters who may want her as a guest.
For many teachers, especially in secondary, this is a scary tool because it makes it so easy for kids to pass off work that is not their own. However I believe that is where we, as librarians have a chance to get ahead of what is coming and help teachers and students use AI tools in a meaningful and appropriate way.
The reality is that most of us have already interacted with some form of AI, an Alexa, automated programs, tech support/chats, etc.
3 Ways to Actively Advocate for Your Library
Not sure how to showcase the value of your school library? Need some ideas on how to advocate for your program? Check out these three ways to actively advocate for your school library during School Library Month and all year long!
1. Monthly Data Collection
Data. Not a word, as teachers, that we always like to hear. However when it comes to actively advocating for your library, collecting data is crucial part of the process. The more data you are able to collect the better you will be able accurately paint a picture of your library activity to administrators and stake holders.
If your administrator or supervisor does not already request data from you regularly, it may be worth it to start the collection practice. Three good areas of focus are student visitors, amount of time providing direct instruction and circulation. Providing the number of student visitors lets stakeholders see the number of students who visit in addition to the day to day students with whom you are working. If you have a fixed or flexible schedule, it is good to track your teaching time, especially because of the other management responsibilities you may have on top of planning and teaching lessons. Finally, keeping track of circulation will help you track from year to year or month to month how many books are moving in and out of your library. This also helps justify spending and reinforces any purchasing you may do.
For a quick, one page data collection tool you can use for the whole year, try this FREE Library Monthly Data Collection tool.
2. Active Social Media
Get out there! If your district allows, start a social media page for your school library. Twitter and Instagram or Facebook are great places to start. It will help you create a professional network as well as promote the good things happening in your space.
Working in an Elementary setting? Not to worry, your social media does not have to target your students, it can be for parents or the community instead. At the secondary level, use what your students are using. This can be a great way to highlight events, actively advocate for your library, and share newly purchased titles directly with students.
Not enough time? There's an app for that! Free accounts with programs like Hootsuite and Planoly will allow you to pre-plan and schedule your postings so you can ensure that your content goes out during a high visibility time for your audience.
Need a place to start? Use this free social media planner, specifically designed for librarians to plan out your postings, focus on special library events during the school year and generate hashtags to increase your visibility.
3. Elevator Speech
Every time someone asks what you do, be ready to articulate in a concise manner what you do, following the word "librarian". With the changes in the field of librarianship over the last 5-10 years, school librarians know we don't do the same things that were done twenty years ago, however that message has not always expanded beyond our profession.
My go-to line is: I'm a middle school librarian. I teach research and information literacy.
That is also the origin of my website tagline! I have used that phrase often and with positive results. It clarifies without being too preachy.
Gone are the days of a librarian sitting behind a desk checking out books all day. And to ensure that our patrons, peers, administrators and the people we meet on the street know what we do, we have to be ready to actively advocate for our libraries.
Don't forget to check out the FREE Library Monthly Data Collection Tool!
What are you going to say next time someone asks what you do?
Hi! I'm Sarah, a school librarian and former middle school English teacher. I empower school librarians to use branding and marketing skills in order to build culture, get visible and advocate for their library.