Being a Summer School Librarian

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Two Schools was Worthwhile

Being a summer school librarian was a rewarding experience. I have been working on the completion of my Library Media Specialist endorsement, and this experience has helped to prepare me for the position. I was fortunate to work at two elementary schools over the summer, which provided an even greater learning opportunity. Working with two different school communities, teachers, and library collections, proved to be a positive choice in preparing for a full-time school library media position.

The First School

On my first day serving as the summer school librarian, one of the teachers asked if I could look for a specific novel. I was more than happy to find this for him and get it to him right away before school started. He was very appreciative. Another teacher asked if I would pull some books about Ancient Egypt, explaining that her students would be working on a project dealing with this subject. Being unfamiliar with the collection here, I was relieved to find a great assortment of books on this topic. I had them displayed on the tables when it was time for her class to have library. She was thrilled and checked every one of them out to use in the classroom. The following week many of the students shared several interesting facts they had learned from this collection of books.

I have quickly become familiar with this library’s collection. Everything is easy to find and easy to put back as well. I will keep the organization strategies implemented here in mind when I am a librarian. I find myself looking at the books and thinking how relevant all of them seem to be because they have current information and are not outdated. This library is full of wonderful books and they are displayed so that the students can find them effortlessly. Popular series are in baskets, labeled. Stools are placed near shelves that may be too high for students to reach standing on the floor. Everything is accessible and visible because of labels and appropriate placement.

The Second School

Shelving books in the second school library was painful both physically and timewise. It took me more than an hour to reshelf one week’s worth of books! Unlike the first library, there are no baskets to place popular series of books in quickly. My strategy was to start with the fiction novels as there were several copies of many of them and once I sorted them, I could quickly shelf them, mostly because there were multiple copies of the same book or the series took up an entire shelf. But then I found myself looking at several books that did not belong together and stooping down repeatedly to fix individual books that were not put back correctly (probably by students). I’m in pretty good shape and my knee joints began to ache. By the time I was done with the fiction novels, I dreaded putting the picture books back on the shelves.

Unlike the fiction novels, where there was lots of space on each shelf, the picture books were tightly squeezed together on the shelves. It was often hard to squeeze one more on a shelf. Shelving the popular series books like Dr. Suess or Berenstein Bears was not so hard but again, the individual putting away was difficult because of the constant bending down that was required. Given the fact that there are several shelves in the picture book section, all jam-packed with books, I believe it is time to weed this area thoroughly. There are several books that are in poor condition and there are multiple copies of some books. I would begin checking the circulation records of these multiple copies and then make some decisions.

Things to Remember

I love the way the librarian has organized several of the series of books in the first library. She has frequently checked out series of books in baskets placed next to the row of books upon the shelf where they would actually be shelved, making them easy to find. But they also have a label in large letters, making them doubly easy-to-find. This way of storing books made it very easy for me to share certain collections with each group of students. Our library time was only a mere 20 minutes per group, so being able to access books quickly was a great help. The children were allowed to choose other books besides the ones that I pulled, however, the children were very excited when they saw the baskets because they knew they contained many of their favorite books.

This organizing strategy was done in almost every section of the library. It also made it very easy to reshelf books, especially since these were the books that were checked out most often. It took me half the time to reshelf the books in the first library than it took me to do the same in the second library. Watching the students access these baskets was interesting. They were interested in looking through the entire series to select the one that interested them most, looking at each cover and description on the back, as opposed to the shelves where they seemed less likely to do this.

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