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May 20, 2011 / Christian M.

My First School Visit

So while my studies in school are focused on medical librarianship….my current job is starting to veer off more into — children’s services?!?!?

On May 11th, I visited an elementary school to give a story time. This was my first school visit ever – and I went all by myself! I was a little nervous, but all went well. One of the kindergarten teachers called to request a story time, and when she found out that I could come to the school (instead of her having to bring her class to the library) she was elated, and her next question to my boss was “How long can we keep her?” So I agreed to give two story times – one to a group of forty-three kindergarteners, and one to a group of fifty-five first-graders. We all had fun, and the teachers really appreciated my coming.

In speaking with the kindergarten teacher afterwards, she expressed why she personally believes it is important to have a librarian visit the school. Due to having to strictly follow a curriculum, she feels limited in the amount of creativity she can implement into her lesson plans, so she turns to the librarian to fill the gap and help the children discover the JOY in reading. She also appreciated that I was able to provide a visual example to some of the teachers of how to incorporate interactive activities into a story time. She was impressed that the first graders paid attention to me for “so long” (30 minutes). I also talked with the children about what type of materials you can find in a library and how to sign up for a library card. Of course, it’s all well and good to get five- and six-year-olds excited about reading and libraries….but it’s really up to the parents to get them there.

I have been requested to visit the school on a regular basis starting next school year. The school does have a librarian, but unfortunately, this public school system has suffered severe budget cuts and half the school media specialists/school librarians have been laid off. So those left are spread thin as they are each responsible for multiple schools.

So I will have sole responsibility for planning and doing the outreach to this elementary school. I’m excited about this new development, but also a little nervous too. I will definitely be reaching out to the children’s librarians at the nearby large library to pick their brains, and possibly shadow them on some of their school visits. I have also (voluntarily) taken over responsibility for weeding and replacement orders for our children’s collection. I definitely did not expect childrens services to become such a large part of my work responsibilities, but decided this is an opportunity to show some initiative, leadership, and just try something new.

Since this is a generalist branch, I’m still keeping my foot in adult services — covering the adult reference desk and teaching adult computer classes. But I have noticed that my boss is scheduling more of my on-the-desk time in the children’s area. I enjoy children’s outreach….but I’m ambivalent about covering the children’s desk….at my branch it really turns into glorified baby-sitting …. but that’s another post for another time.

For more information about the Prince George’s County public school library dilemma:

Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Library Media Specialists Need Your Help

Prince George’s County Public School Libraries

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2 Comments

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  1. Lesley / May 20 2011 11:14 am

    Glad to hear about your positive experience at the school! Too bad about the “glorified babysitting” at the children’s desk back at the ranch, though.

    Sounds like you’re doing a great job of getting different librarian experiences! I’m positive it’ll all pay off!

    • LibGirl09 / May 20 2011 12:02 pm

      I’m happy that the school visit went well, and that the teachers are aware of the importance of having a librarian involved in the education process.

      I’m not quite sure how to handle the “babysitting.” It is what it is. It is a neighborhood where parents need a safe place to leave their children after school. However, I do tire of hearing “Ms. Christian so-and-so hit me/turned off my computer/said a bad word/is bothering me, etc.”

      And I definitely hope all these different experiences do pay off……

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