Do you respect, value, and appreciate your school librarian or library media specialist? Well, April is School Library Month, April 23-29 is National Library Week, and April 4 is National School Librarian Day. So, it’s a great month to rally your school community to express it! I mean, every day is a great day to show your school librarian that you respect, value, and appreciate them and their work, but April is a great month to take your school library advocacy up a notch. Before we look at ways school leaders and educators can show appreciation, let’s look at the job of the school librarian.
What Do School Librarians Do?
Do you know the answer to this question? If the thought of a school librarian stirs up visions of a stern-looking, glasses-wearing, “shusher” sitting behind the desk in the school library, scolding students about late returns before slowly pushing a dusty, creaking cart of books to reshelve the returns all day long, I have to say– this is not what it means to be a school librarian today. It’s so much more.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has a sample job description that can shed some insight into the life of a school librarian. But keep in mind that this is generalized. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the specific needs of individual schools that librarians may be required to meet. Many school librarians are also teaching (meaning they lead classes), responsible for duties (such as co-teaching, lunchroom, recess, car line, etc.), acting as instructional coaches, and/or completing other duties as assigned in addition to regular school librarian job duties.
Here is some additional information from AASL about the work of school librarians. You see, being a school librarian is jam-packed with diverse responsibilities that are all meaningful and important to learners, educators, and school communities. Librarians are change agents, guardians of information, life-long learners and researchers, and more. And the library is the heart of the school.
Why Are School Librarians So Important?
School librarians are as important now as ever before. Students have an immense amount of information at their fingertips. In addition to teaching and reinforcing library and media skills, reading comprehension skills, digital literacy skills, and supporting a growing love of reading, part of the work of a school librarian is to teach students how to think critically about information, how to sift through sources to determine which ones are reliable, how to conduct proper research, and how to summarize and communicate their ideas and the results of research.
This is not even touching the surface of the important work school librarians do each day in collaboration with teachers to support their work in the classroom. Not only do school librarians work with students, but they may also provide training for educators on trending topics, resources, and digital learning tools. Librarians I know are constantly completing trainings, certifications, and courses to stay on top of the latest and greatest ed tech tools and library best practices. They work with teachers to collaborate on learning goals, units, lessons, and more. It is extremely important to also note the tremendous value librarians offer students and teachers through the curation and management of a rich, equitable, diverse, inclusive, and engaging collection of literature, resources, and texts (both print and digital). Often, they are curating without adequate funding.
Resources about the importance of school libraries/librarians:
- 10 Reasons Librarians Are More Important Than Ever (Common Sense Education)
- The Nonnegotiable Role of School Librarians (National Association of Secondary School Principals)
- Roles of the School Librarian: Empowering Student Learning and Success (Northeast Comprehensive Center)
- The Importance of Having a School Library (United Federation of Teachers)
- Librarians Help Students Navigate an Age of Misinformation- But Schools Are Cutting Their Numbers (University of South Carolina)
- The Importance of School Libraries in the Google Age (Schools Catalogue Information Service)
- And there’s so much more.
Showing Appreciation During School Library Month
Don’t you feel a welling up of appreciation and respect for school librarians? I know I do. I recently asked librarians on Twitter what colleagues and leaders can do to make them feel appreciated during National Library Week, School Librarian Day, and School Library Month. Let’s take a look at some of their suggestions and a few additional ways leaders and educators can say “thanks” during the month of April and throughout the year.
Leaders, how your staff and community view the school library often starts with you. You are a powerful ally. In addition to the librarian’s advocacy for the library, your visible advocacy and support can help set your school librarian, the library, and your school up for success. Do you know your librarian’s vision? Are you actively promoting it? Here are some ideas for celebrating School Librarian Day, School Library Month, and supporting the library all year long.
- Request a proclamation of School Library Month from your school board and elected officials (ALA templates).
- Note School Library Day and School Library Month on your school calendar.
- Send out an email to the school community promoting School Library Month and School Librarian Day. In the email, share the importance of the school library to learning. (Resources and more resources for promoting).
- Set up a “Library Mailbox” where students, teachers, and parents can place handwritten notes for the librarian.
- Acknowledge your library staff in staff meetings and give them the opportunity to give library updates.
- Explicitly mention and promote in staff meetings ways that teachers and librarians can partner. Highlight partnerships and projects throughout the year.
- Share your librarian’s Amazon Wish List or Library Wish List with your school community.
- Post “library brags” on social media about the important work your librarian is doing.
- Offer them a hot beverage and/or morning treat.
- Buy them lunch!
- Write them a handwritten note of thanks. State specific reasons why you’re happy they are at your school and/or how they specifically make an impact.
- Give a shout-out during the morning announcements.
- Visit the library. Ask questions and take interest in their work. Tell your librarian in person how much you appreciate them and give a specific example of something in particular you appreciate.
- Cover a class or duty to give them a little break!
- Encourage book donations or financial donations.
- Volunteer in the library by giving book talks, shelving, etc.
- Actively and regularly publicly promote your school’s library through communication highlighting what’s going on in the library (on social, via email, or through a newsletter, etc.).
- In partnership with the librarian, make the school community aware of library needs and ways to help the library.
- Facilitate and promote collaboration on pedagogical projects, units of study, and lessons between teachers and the librarian.
- Last, but not least– ask your school librarian how you can best support them and show your appreciation.
Highlight the library to the community, promote what’s happening, facilitate collaboration among staff, and repeat…all year long.
Educators, you are important partners for school librarians, and they love supporting the work you’re doing in your classroom. Are you currently collaborating with your school librarian to bridge the classroom and library? Here are some ways you can show appreciation, work with your students to help them express gratitude, and forge a solid partnership with your school librarian.
- Create a student choice board with activities for showing appreciation for the library and library staff (write a note, draw a picture, make a video, record an audio message, etc.).
- Provide your librarian with chocolate (or another favorite treat).
- Run a class (or staff!) book drive for the library.
- Collect donations from staff and offer the funds as a donation to the library.
- Lead your students in writing thank you notes (or drawing pictures) to your librarian for specific ways he/she/they have inspired, helped, or encoured them in their reading, personal, or academic journey.
- Get them something off their Amazon Wish List or Library Wish List.
- Give your librarian social media shout-outs!
- Collect letters, or write a letter signed by staff, and send them to the school board outlining the importance of the library and the work of your librarian.
- Write them a handwritten note expressing your respect for their work and your appreciation for what they do.
- Reiterate to your students why the library is important to your community and to their learning.
- Invite your librarian to your classroom!
- Return your books on time, and remind your students to return their books on time.
- With your class, brainstorm things you love about the library, and make a “We Love the Library!” collage for your librarian.
- Ask students how the library has impacted them, and make a list to offer your librarian from the class.
- Let your librarian know in advance what comprehension/reading, writing, or research skills you are working on and collaborate on how to connect the library and classroom.
- Ask your librarian to attend a unit planning meeting and work together on a full unit of study or project.
- Schedule times (outside of library class times) to take your students to the library for collaborative lessons or research time.
- Share learning goals with your librarian and ask them about digital tools to support these goals.
- Seek out their book recommendations for read alouds, your classroom library, or to support student learning needs.
- Last, but not least– ask your school librarian how you can support them and show your appreciation. They’ll tell you!
Additional Resources for School Library Month
Please spread the word about School Library Month (April), National Library Week (April 3-9), and National School Librarian day (April 4) so that you and your school community can take this time to intentionally show appreciation for all the amazing school librarians. What will you do for your school librarian and library this April? Leave us a note in the comments!
Summer Librarian Conference Is Back!
Calling all librarians! TCEA’s second annual Librarian Conference is back, and we want YOU to be a part of it. Three days of virtual learning exclusively catered to all things library? Yes, please.
If you’re interested in topics like the latest research on reading, organization and time management tools, promoting your library, and curation tools and tips, this summer camp is perfect for you. Join your fellow librarians and media specialists online, June 27-29, 2023, for this summer librarian event and grow your network, knowledge, and library.