Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Value Of Summer Library Services

I'm beginning my fourth year as a 12 month public school teacher librarian. I'd like to share some of the things I do in the summer months that have helped our learning community and our library program. It is rare in Arkansas (and in most states) to hear of 12 month school library positions. I want to pose some ideas for those of you that have considered working some of your contracted days in the summer months (if that is permissible in your school district).

A Great Opportunity
The library is a great place to host summer PD sessions!
I have always envisioned the school library being available to students and teachers year round. This was something that came to pass for our learning community starting in the 2013-2014 school year. Since that time, I have witnessed a great increase in the use of summer library services, most notably following our recent library renovation earlier this school year. 

Many people ask me "what do you do in the summer?" or "don't you get bored?" There is always plenty to do in a school library; in 8 years as a teacher librarian, I have yet to ever catch up on my work. I'm sure you relate well to this! I keep waiting to experience the boredom in this career, but I haven't seen it yet. With all of the constant changes in technology and publishing, I feel certain it will never be boring. There is always a new book to read, a new skill to learn, new technology to try, and patrons needing help. I have discovered that it is difficult to decide where to start every day when I walk through the library doors, especially in the summer months.

There are always new materials to catalog during the summer!

Benefits of Summer Services

I've decided that opening the school library (even a few times per month) in the summer is beneficial to the entire learning community. First of all, we have equipment and inventory that is just sitting during June and July. Opening up allows it to be used. Consider using some of your summer contracted days to host teacher training sessions. Groups are always needing places with computer access and presentation spaces; the library can be a perfect place. Presenters always need technical assistance, and teacher librarians can easily provide that expertise. This adds value to our programs and allows attendees to view us in a different way. Everyone loves a good host/ hostess!

There are always students and teachers needing tech help

Secondly, consider having a summer book club. When I host summer book clubs, I invite students to lead them. We typically only have three meetings for each book club. The groups are usually small and easily manageable. The students who join these clubs really seem to enjoy coming to discuss the readings. Most of these students are not typically involved in many other summer activities, and they are looking for things to do. Book clubs are a great service to them! I'll be sharing some summer book club stories soon!

There are always students needing new reads in the summer!
Thirdly, any summer hours you have provide amazing promotional opportunities! Recently, I shared photos of our summer daily library traffic on social media. Parents and administrators noticed this. (Some even shared my posts on their social media!) Imagine how this changed how our library program looked to others. My hope is that our administration and school board get a small return on their investment in the library renovation and in providing me extra days to work when they view such photos. I am grateful to them for funding our library to be open in the summer! I want them to see summer activity, excitement, and value to our learning community. Imagine how this could make a difference in your school and library program, even if you opened just a few days each month in the summer. Make sure you share your summer library stories, or others may not know what cool things you are doing!

Our students love to come eat lunch in the library during summer school!
Final Thoughts

This student came by the library to read last week
I understand that summer time is sacred to both teachers and students. We need our time away from the intensity of school in order to recharge. Consider having a few activities in your library during the summer months. The potential benefits to your library program are huge. Most importantly, if you can make a positive impact on just a few students or teachers during the summer months, the results are priceless. Be sure to share any of your ideas or success stories in the comments below!

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