Our library is a really busy place. We have classes scheduled to borrow books through the weeks, we have students coming at any time to return and borrow books, we have classes coming to the library to find resources, teachers needing help, parent helpers helping, opened every recess and lunch time for all students access as well mornings and afternoons. We also have library work to get on with.
We also have a new staff member who started with us last Monday. She has worked in libraries before, but never a school library, and not an international school library. Her experience of school libraries was her own school days and we had a conversation on Friday that went something like this.....
Me ...How are you going? Are you keeping up with everything?
Her .... I am trying, it is very busy - crazy busy.
Me .... Is it much different from your previous work?
Her .... Oh yes - I have only dealt with adults before, but it is OK. I like the children.
Me ....Is the job similar to what you expected?
Her .... No it is unexpectantly busy, much busier than I thought it would be in a school. I attended a local school, not an international school, and libraries were boring places, no one wanted to go to the library. The librarian was mean, the books were boring and the place was so unwelcoming. This library is so different, the children really love it, which makes it a busy place. But that is good, it is the way it should be. You are a fun librarian, and the students like that.
I know there are still school libraries in HK that are like her description 20 -15 years after she went to school. Are they like that because that is the only experience they have had of libraries? My experience of school libraries wasn't exemplary either - both my primary school and high school Teacher librarians (brand new positions way back then) were learning about the job. They did the best they could, but I would not describe the library experience as stimulating.
Our libraries are a reflection of our personalities and what our mission statements are for the library experience. I am an outgoing person, always looking for new learning opportunities, I like to create and I like to share. Colour is important, as is light and meaningful connections between people and experiences. I think our library is reflecting this so far.
My mission for the library includes the following :
I want the library I am heading to be a place of learning - in any form, I want the library to be a place where students feel comfortable and want to come. I want the library to be an experience they will remember as a positive one, and, I want the library to be a place where students will be inspired to read whatever takes their fancy or need, and we will have enough choice to allow this to happen.
I want the students to be independent inquirers and searchers of information, I want them to be empowered by the knowledge that they can find, and, do hard things. I want them to know that knowing information is not enough - it is what we do with information that matters. I want them to be explorers of new things, I want them to be able to open their minds and opinions to new ideas and ways of doing things. I want them to be life long learners and be inspired and to question why, how, when, where, what if? I want the school library to be the revolving door of the school - a place where the school community can come to, reach for and we will be there to help. I want the students to see that collaboration can make things better, that working and thinking together can have amazing results.
Is this mission realistic? Can a school library achieve such things? I do think it has the potential to be such an influence, it all comes down to me and how I lead my team. Having these goals is a start toward reaching them.