Before You Visit
1. If you don't have a connection to a school, make sure you call and set up an appointment with the librarian at a convenient time for him/her. They may be teaching, visiting classrooms, or book talking, so be respectful of their hectic schedules.
|Mrs. Kantner runs the K-2 and the 3-5 libraries. This list is just for 1 day.|
2. Know that many school libraries are now run by aides without library degrees due to budget cuts. If this is the case, you may prefer to set up a visit at your local public library branch.
3. Also, most schools have security protocol. Ask if you need identification such as your driver's license and to whom you should report when entering the building. Usually a building secretary will handle this procedure and give you a badge indicating you're a visitor. Check to see if you have permission to snap photos for future reference. (Public schools usually have a strict policy on whether or not students can be in videos/photos.)
4. Check out the library's web site if possible beforehand to get a sense of the climate and culture, too.
5. Jot down the principal and superintendent's contact information from the school web site so you can write a thank you note/email after your visit that specifically details the benefits of a robust library program run by a certified librarian. (Send a copy to the librarian, also. They are the unsung heroes in many buildings.)
Our Tour and What to Observe as You Visit
Your visit begins long before you enter the library. Notice art work and posters in the halls. Canal Winchester emphasizes a design process that fits into the maker space/STEM/STEAM initiatives so pervasive today. Think about how your work can fit into district-wide curriculum. The colorful image on the right is an example of art and math teachers working together. Do your manuscripts cover more than one discipline?
Wander the shelves and display areas to get a sense of the book collection. See what areas are heavily used and which genres look like they are never in circulation. Graphic novels rotate heavily and are pulled from the normal shelving units for easy access.
Series biographies and fiction series are also very popular with intermediate level students. The picture book section spans the back wall and is used by both teachers and students, yet less frequently. (See how organized this area is.)
Reading is celebrated in this building and librarian Janie Kantner and aide Judy Jewel share what they are reading over by the circulation desk. While students line up to check out, they have a visible reminder of books read for pleasure by the staff. The library staff is part of the 40 Book Challenge which began in at the beginning of the year. ( I'm involved, also.)
Picture book writers will be pleased to know that picture books "count" in this challenge, too! However, one must read 8 picture books to equal one middle grade or chapter book. Our librarian bought copies of THE BOOK WHISPERER by Donalyn Miller for all teachers as part of their professional collection and the reading culture has improved since this program began a few years ago.
Come back for more of my visit on Monday, January 16 to learn about author visits and student nonfiction favs.. Check out the school library web site here for more information.