ALIA Schools Online Forum: Teams in School Libraries – Day 3

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ALIA Schools Online Forum ‘Teams in School libraries’:

Day 3 – Solo in a School Library

Welcome to the third day of the ALIA Schools Online Forum: Teams in School Libraries.

Today’s question is:

What strategies can/do you use to connect with members of your school community?

We look forward to your responses and thank you for taking the time to participate.

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13 thoughts on “ALIA Schools Online Forum: Teams in School Libraries – Day 3

  1. Being on your own in a library does not mean that you are not a team member. It means that you are probably a member of more teams than most classroom teachers. You need to be on curriculum planning meetings both small and large. What teams are you involved with in your school?

    • I am on the Teaching & Learning team at my school. Although a lot of it isn’t relevant to me (I am not a teacher librarian), every meeting there is always one or two things that are beneficial, and also just having a presence on that team shows the teachers that I am interested and invested in their teaching and can be relied on to help with planning or supporting the curriculum when necessary. I also stay abreast of the curriculum by reading the curriculum mapping in the school, and making sure we have the best resources in the library to support what topics/subjects are being taught.

  2. In my previous workplace where I was in a team of two, I was on a number of committees. With regards to the committees I have undertaken different roles at different times. Some committees I was on for a number of years; other committees were more short term. e.g.
    • Curriculum Committee – Convenor / Member
    • Principal’s Administrative Consultative Committee – Member
    • Budget Working Party – Member
    • School Council – Member
    • School Council Facilities Sub-Committee – Member
    • School Council Education Sub-Committee – Member
    • School Council Learning Technologies Sub-Committee – Member
    • AEU Sub-branch – President / Secretary / Treasurer / Member
    • Staff Association – President / Secretary / Member

    I was also involved with teams beyond the school e.g.
    • AEU State Working Party -Teacher-Librarian Conditions – Member
    • AEU State Council – Secondary representative
    • SLAV Parliamentary Inquiry Reference Group – Member
    • Library Management System User Group – Convenor /Member

    I am a great believer in getting involved to ensure that you are able to present your view/needs etc. e.g. being a member of the Budget Working Party meant that I gained an excellent idea of the budget process and was able to argue in support of my own budget submission. It also meant that I became aware of a fund created by parent donations and designated as Library that I was able to access. This belief about how to get change is why I got involved with the SLAV and AEU groups when they were convened.
    When I was not on School Council I still had regularly contact with the parent members so that they were aware of the library and its successes/priorities/needs.

    My current workplace has fewer committees but I am a member of:
    • Operations Committee
    • Learning & Teaching Committee
    • Professional Development Working Party
    • EAL Working Party
    • Moodle Working Party

    Being a member of a variety of committees means that you know what’s happening and are therefore able to influence decisions and not be potentially blindsided by an unexpected decision.

  3. Teacher Librarians at our College all teach English within a team of 3 to 4 teachers. This has occurred for the past two years and as a result, I feel far more connected to the College, its goals and its teaching staff, than I have over many years as a Teacher- Librarian. Although I have been a member of many committees and teams over the years, being part of a teaching team has had the most impact as I face the same difficulties and successes as other teachers and develop a working understanding of the curriculum.

  4. I make sure the library has a very visible presence in the school community by writing articles for the newsletter, speaking at assemblies and briefings, taking the library out into the school via pop-up libraries, encouraging my Library Monitors to be ambassadors for their library, and other similar attempts to be seen and heard. We also celebrate and commemorate all types of events in the library, book-related or otherwise. This includes Cultural Diversity Week, ANZAC Day, International Women’s Day, NAIDOC Week, Banned Books Week, Library Lovers’ Day etc. We do so by having displays, competitions, trivia, and workshops or lunchtime programs. Another thing we do that gives the staff and students ownership over the library is have them be very involved in collection development by having a suggestion box and going on book-buying excursions to local book shops.

    • I really like your suggestions about keeping students engaged and giving ownership over the library. My campus is years 5-12, and basically year 5’s start as crazy borrowers, then drop over the next couple of years until year 7 – almost non-existent, and above that – nothing but the mandatory reading.
      I have been thinking about the suggestion box for a little while. It will be a challenge as an independent Christian school with only 50% of students with the same background as the school, to let the students feel they have a say while possibly having to reject a fair bit of what they will suggest due to content. My favourite genre is YA fiction, especially dystopian – I refuse to grow up haha – and there is so much of what I’ve read and loved that I would like to put on shelves, but would probably be deemed inappropriate.

  5. As Catherine and Amanda have indicated, it is important that you are seen as being part of a team, especially in the curriculum area. In a previous position I was the only Library staff member. As the library was open after school, I encouraged co-ordinators to hold meetings in the classroom attached to the library to allow me to participate but also keep an eye on students. They were happy to do this. Another issue was scheduling my lunch break but still being able to keep the library open. Often a teacher on a ‘free’ would do their work in the library and take messages and help students if they could. This had the advantage of allowing them to explore library resources and so make better use of these.

  6. I’m not solo in the library, but for me communication has to be the key to forming good relationships and being part of the team / community…of course what is possible is dependent on time and quite often this is the obstacle or difficulty. I guess then prioritising what is important is essential. I think if you are solo (or even a team of two), starting small and building on small successes is a strategy that can work. I ‘connect’ with one teacher, then expand this to include another with the aim that more will come on board. Again, it’s time constraints from both sides that impact on effectiveness. Another fairly important strategy for me is to build a team of ‘specialist’ teachers – we are able to support, discuss, plan and share ideas between us, as sometimes the nature of what we do is quite different from a class teacher (in a primary setting). My final suggestion would be to seek the support of the admin. team – talk, highlight, show off, promote whatever you are doing as often as you can and be prepared to ask questions!

  7. School community (parents): options are: inclusions in newsletter; updates on school Facebook page; direct communication (email/sms) via school database program SEQTA.
    School community (other staff): options are: general email; putting forward agenda items at staff meetings (I don’t work that day, but manager does); AdGroup or Academic committee meetings; liaising directly with department heads and Learning Support.
    Eventually hopefully we will have our OPAC set up (I can dream, right?) which can allow notifications to staff, students and/or parents.

  8. arranging times to talk to (primary) grade teams about the library program, so as to target things like research skills just before students will be needing those skills for one of their other subjects, or planning team-teaching activities. Also being a visible participant in school events (cross-country, sports carnivals) and speaking up in staff meetings. Also offering targeted services to subject faculties (secondary) – getting time to speak to a whole faculty early in the year and ask what sorts of support they/their students would find beneficial.

  9. Connecting with your school community was one of our recent teacher-librarian network discussions. Summarising some of the practices from the South East Brisbane network included lots of strategies that built up positive relationships with parents and and being VISIBLE in the community. Some examples were: inviting parents to be borrows so they can share/ read with their children; having interesting items in newsletters or on assembly; having an open-door policy before and after school; holding author and literature promotions and launches; communicating with parents and care-givers about strengths and positives that are happening (not only when an overdue is being chased).

  10. There are lots of ways to get out into the school community and get the word of the library out there. I am a library tech so can’t get onto teams etc., that is the head teacher librarians job. My special way I get out into the school community is by running a Student Library Committee where the students are promoting the library to other students by:

    Running events (trivia, book hunts)
    Talking in school assemblies
    Putting up posters around the school
    Emailing students

    I also have had to make a real effort to talk to teachers in our staff room because a lot of teachers aren’t ever in the library. It took a few years but they now know I am there to help them by selecting books for them, ordering books they would like purchased, sending out lists of new books they might like to read and many more things.

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