Summer has just flown by! School starts here at the end of this month, so I thought it was a great time to reflect on library service to teachers. In my experience, successful interactions with teachers (including school librarians) depends upon communication, simplification, flexibility, and collaboration. Here are some practical suggestions for each of these categories.
- Contact individual teachers or your school’s library media specialist to find out about upcoming events, assignments, and research projects.
- Offer to present about library services and register teachers for library cards at a staff development day.
- Provide an introductory packet to be distributed to teachers when they register for library cards.
- Add a page for educators to your library’s website with information about what you can offer them and links to resources they will find most useful.
Simplification- Saving the Time of the
- Make it a policy that you will pull books from the shelves for teachers who give you advance notice of their needs.
- Resolve scheduling problems by setting aside specific time slots that are available only for class visits.
- Join teachers in the stacks to help them look for materials. (Don’t assume it’s enough just to point them in the right direction!)
- Develop a streamlined process for issuing library cards to entire classes at once.
- Provide special library cards for educators with extended loan periods and increased borrowing limits.
- Allow for the possibility that students might lose or damage books and try to give teachers the benefit of the doubt when charging them for lost or damaged items. (My last library allowed educators to lose up to 10 items without charging which I think was wonderfully generous.)
- Be willing to host class visits in your library, or to visit classes off-site depending on the needs of a particular teacher. (In my experience, preschools especially appreciate it when you can come to them during the winter months. It takes forever to get all those little bodies into coats and mittens!)
- Consider allowing teachers to have several “dummy” cards to assist with in-class database instruction. (I was asked to do this once, and my manager forbade me from going through with it, which created some ill will with the requesting teacher.)
- Work together to teach research skills in special instructional sessions (with the school librarian or an individual teacher).
- Invite teachers and school librarians to evening and weekend events at the library, and encourage them to invite their students as well.
- Partner with a teacher, school librarian, or even a whole school to host a literacy festival or other large-scale event.
- Be a presence at school events, such as book fairs, career days, sports events, fairs, and anything else where local businesses are invited to participate.