In August, I started a new job as a School Librarian at an innovative private school for urban youth in Trenton, NJ called Christina Seix Academy. I love it! I work with a wonderful team of people and have the privilege of building a library for our community: teachers, parents, and most importantly, students ranging from PreK 3- 8th grade. Our calendar is a little different from your average school, so by the time I started the kids had already been in class for 2 weeks, but everyone has made me feel welcomed, and the excitement that building around the new space is truly palpable.
One of the things that I’ve been asked lately is how well did my job as a YS librarian in a large public system prepare me for a job at a school. Surprising to some, the answer is “fairly well”. At my previous job I had the opportunity to work one on one with teachers in a unique manner, as there was no School Librarian. Together with teachers, we would find items to supplement curriculum lessons while also teaching students how to determine whether a book was the right level for them, and how to use the all the resources the library has. Additionally, I worked with newborns up through high school students, which translates well at a PreK 3-8th grade institution.
My PL days also prepared me in indirect ways. As Public Librarians, we are encouraged to make connections with the community, establish partnerships and do that outreach. Building a library where there was none requires doing the same thing. For the library to truly be successful and have the impact on our community and students that we know it can, I have to establish and make those connections with families, faculty, staff and students. Thanks to my time behind a public desk, I am also prepared for the day that may come when a patron is upset with an item from our collection, or is just having a bad day and I’m the person it gets taken out on. I’m working now to develop a collection development policy and library mission statement that reflects our school values, and in public library land, I was exposed to a variety of patrons and personalities.
Yes, there are days where things are new learning curve- such as determining circulation systems and purchasing sources, but at the end of the day the end goal, in both a Public Library or a School Library is the same to me. Get students reading. Help them see themselves and others through our resources. Prepare them for what comes next and to be global citizens. Isn’t that all that really matters anyway?