and a winner of a 2016 Super-Librarian Award
When I started at Lunenburg High School in 2000, I shared the high school library with a full-time assistant. For the past few years, I have worked alone in a high school that now includes grade eight. And next year, I believe I will continue solo in a new middle/high school housing grades six through twelve. Over the years I became the Google Apps administrator and high school webmaster and de facto tech support for students and many teachers, served on many different committees, and started offering professional development courses and workshops. This is the first year implementing an advisory program, and I am proud to say that mine has made others jealous (messy pumpkin carving and tie-dying will probably not be allowed in the new library, but it was great fun!)
Our tech department requires that we use a ticket system to log and track our tech support requests and discourages real-time drop-in requests for help. But I have no such system. Everyone walks in for tech support, help with tech integration, research assistance, reading suggestions, and sometimes just a cleansing vent or a simple chat. When I introduce myself to new teachers and students, I always tell them to see me whenever they need help with anything. It can be overwhelming at times trying to manage all the demands. But if I am not willing to fix the jammed printer or troubleshoot computer problems, along with showing how to properly create citations and find books for research projects, who else would be?
I want the library to be a welcoming place, but I also want it to be a respected space. There is a fine line between collaboration and fooling around, a fine line between needing a place to work and trying to avoid study, a fine line between joking around and being disrespectful to those around you. Students have thanked me for feeling they had a home in the library. They know they can hide in a corner to read, work on projects, and drop off baked goods, over-sized projects, sports equipment, and even the occasional scooter. I began letting students stay for lunch because I never wanted anyone to face sitting alone in the cafeteria. Sometimes students feel a little too comfortable and an entire group meets to eat in the library, but they always pick up after themselves and they do seem to enjoy being in here. And I have noticed that connections are made that might not be forged otherwise. When I am completely filled with classes and have to turn away students from lunch, I am always worried that I am sending away someone who really needs to be in here.
Sometimes I wonder why I stay open every lunch and take students from study nearly every period, when I do not get a prep or a break and sometimes do not get to eat my own lunch. Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to process all the new books and shelve the recently returned, to keep up with all the technology support and technology integration requests, with research and project help, with updates on the websites, with laptop and printer meltdowns, or with requests for Google Apps help. I think everyone knows that I really do care about them and the overall experience in the library. It appears they forgive my frustrated moments, and know they can always come to me for help even if they drove me crazy earlier in the day. And on the days I need a little help, there is always a student or staff member who knows that is the day I need a kind word or a smile.
I am very excited for new spaces and new opportunities next year, but am anxious about how I will manage everything. I do not want to lose the hard-earned sense of community we enjoy now. I am so grateful that I have a job I love helping students, teachers and administrators. I certainly did not set out to be super, although I truly appreciate the accolade.