Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tales from a First-Year Middle School Librarian

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This past weekend, I was unpacking boxes of books in the house that Colin and I now own and I was hit with this desperate longing.

I miss reading.

[And I also miss writing about it!]

It's ironic that my job title is "Librarian" and I've barely read a book in the past three months. I work with books every day, but my own interaction with them is different than it used to be. I no longer have subway commutes nor lunch breaks to bury myself in a story. My after work hours have been filled with new homeowner tasks, pep-talking my first-year teacher husband, and unwinding with mindless TV shows or movies (because, currently, my attention span matches that of my middle schoolers). I've read a couple books here and there but mostly titles from my library's collection—gotta connect with the kids and all that.

But as I unpacked and shelved books from our old life, I was overwhelmed with that familiar all-consuming desire to read as much as humanly possible. All of my shelves—physical and virtual—are lined with so many stories that have piqued my interest that I don't even know where to I haven't. That night I made a vow to veg out with books rather than HGTV, and with Thanksgiving and winter holidays just around the corner, I'm excited to spend cold days curled up on my couch with a cup of tea on the table and a book on my lap.

But enough about my longings for books, I also wanted to share some tidbits about my first year as a school librarian, since part of the motivation for re-branding this blog was to share these experiences.

In a nutshell, I absolutely love it. My school is a perfect fit, and the kids have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Our middle schools are grades 5-8, and you always hear that teachers either love or hate middle school. Well I love it. There are such a range of personalities and maturity levels. I've got wide-eyed 5th graders who give you a hug every chance they get, 8th grade girls that want to impress the high school boys next door, and everything else in between.

My Library Ambassadors, "swearing-in" to their duties on Harry Potter Book 7

I'm under the impression that the former library wasn't so energetic. There were a lot of rules and its accessibility was more limited. I am fortunate this year to have a full-time clerk with me, which the previous librarian didn't have, so perhaps that was part of it, but I've been working really hard to get students involved and excited in something they have overlooked in the past. My 5th and 6th graders are absurdly enthusiastic, but it's been harder to reach the 7th and 8th grades who have already dismissed the library from their radar. 

The most fun thing to happen so far is the launch of a Library Ambassador program to get students involved in what's happening in here. I had several kids ask me how they could help out in the library (which is awesome for generally apathetic preteens), so this was a solution to get kids helping out but also doing outreach to their peers that may not come in so often. I now have 22 kids from all four grades spending one class period a week in here checking in and shelving books, creating displays and recommendations, helping with collection development, going to classes as a "mobile library" to give book talks and collect returns, and helping plan events and activities. I'm actually having to limit them to only one day a week, because they keep trying to sneak in more often and I don't have room for them—all in all, not a bad problem to have!

Sorry for the ramble of updates, but I just wanted to check in and say that this blog hasn't had the plug pulled on it yet. There is still more to come!

Happy fall!