Monday, June 6, 2016

School Librarian

I love books. Some of my happiest memories from childhood were going to the book fair at school, or getting the new Scholastic book catalog in my elementary school classes. I also loved going to the public library, and usually walked out with a huge stack of books. So working in the library at school has been a dream come true for me. My work is in the library at school is one of my primary projects, and one that I have put a lot of time and energy into over the past two years.

When I first arrived at my school they told me I would be the Librarian. It started out pretty simple-- just opening the library for students during the morning breaks, and keeping track of the books they were checking out. Then I noticed there were books that were not being used by the students, and I wanted to rearrange the library to encourage their use. I also noticed that the students liked to review past JCE and MSCE exams (similar to our SAT and ACT in the U.S.), but they were all out of order and the students couldn't find the right ones, so I decided to organize those. And it just kept going from there.

Some of the projects I have worked on at our school library are:
  • Creating a list for each class of the student names and numbers so we can expedite the check-out process
  • Organizing a library raffle at the end of the term to reward students who turn in their books on time
  • Organizing all of the subject syllabi so teachers can use them for their schemes and lesson planning
  • Organizing all books by subject and then by level e.g. Biology subdivided into Junior and Senior level and labeling the bookshelves with that information
  • Working with a bookbinder to get books repaired, and purchasing masking tape to bind all the torn books
  • Numbering and organizing the huge shipment of books we received from the Ministry of Education
  • Encouraging teachers to utilize multiple books for their classes, and to bring books into the classrooms for their lessons
  •  Encouraging student use of dictioniaries and encyclopaedias
  • Creating library periods for each form, so the classes get 40 minutes instead of 15 minutes to use the library. This way instead of just scrambling to find a book before the bell, they actually have time to browse and ask questions.

The project I am most proud of though has got to be the Library Monitor system. Previously our school had two Library Prefects in Form 4, who were in charge of assisting in the library.  I created the position of two Library Monitors in each Form, so now our school has a total of six Library Monitors and two Library Prefects. These students have the duties of assisting me in the library during their Form’s assigned library periods. They met with me on Friday afternoons during the first term and I trained them in the library, abut the rules and the organization, how to use dictionairies, encyclopaeidias and atlases and the use of indexes, glossaries and table of contents to find the information they needed.

Now library periods go really smoothly. One Library Monitor mans the door and makes sure there are no more than five students in the library at a time. The other walks around, assisting students and putting away books that are returned. This allows me to assist students with checking in and checking out books and past papers. This works well on so many levels. The students that don’t speak English well are more comfortable asking questions of the Library Monitors in Chichewa than asking me, and I can have the Library Monitors translate things for me if needed. They are also my library spokespeople for their class, so if say we need ot reschedule a library period due to a holiday, I can just work with the library monitors to try to find the best time. The Library Monitor program has been a huge success, and has made my experience as Librarian really meaningful. Best of all, these students will retain what they have learned about the library, and hopefully they will continue to pass it on to students and teachers after I am gone.

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