Monday, December 6, 2010

Will two librarians be better than one?

Last week, I got the happy news that my school would be hiring a second librarian. For the past seven years, we've been at the threshold for an additional unit. Until now it, the second librarian salary was going to the assistant football coach, make of that what you will.

I am DESPERATE for some help -- serving 80 teachers and 1300 students single-handed has me at the end of my tether. But will we get qualified applicants at midyear? I am encouraging our administration to consider tech-y librarians with public library orientations instead of teachers "leaving the classroom" for this position. I have taught both groups, and find students going into public libraries to be heads-and-shoulders above their school library counterparts. Sorry, but that's what I've seen from an instructional perspective. And ALA program accreditation matters.

I have started thinking about what this person needs to know.

First, the negatives:
  • I work a lot. I am here at 6:30, an hour before the school building opens, most mornings. I don't get a planning period, and I see classes most of the day, not the 60% recommended by ALSDE. Hopfeully, another set of hand may alleviate some of that workload.
  • We haven't had a materials budget for two years. I spend a lot of my own money on this program. I have been buying the cleaning supplies, the office supplies, and most of the books. If you're not willing to chip in, you had better be an ace fundraiser. We don't have a PTO.
  • On a related note, there isn't a budget for professional development. If you want to go to a conference or workshop, you pay your own registration and expenses. That said, they are quite kind about encouraging professional growth, and will always let you away from school.
  • Our teachers are spoiled. I will set up technology projects, pull books, fix their webpages and their gradebooks. Expect unrealistic expectations.
  • The computer network is locked down like Ft. Knox. You won't be able to do much of anything requiring plug-ins, and the filters are typically Draconian, but easily permeable when you don't want them to be.
The positives:
  • The administrators ROCK. They have tremendous support for what goes on in the library. Just don't expect any money, because there isn't any.
  • The students are, for the most part, well-behaved. There are few discipline concerns.
  • The collection is so much better than it was eight years ago -- lots of recent fiction, and nonfiction and reference are looking up, too.
  • Our paraprofessional aid is a real pro and knows the school culture quite intimately.
If you are interested, we are in Madison County Schools, District 8.

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