When leaving a school library, what do we do with our Library Lessons? Some administrators expect all lessons to remain at the school and librarians may balk at being ordered to leave their own work products. Some fear that leaving their lessons for the next librarian would minimize their value for using the same lessons at their next school and for presenting or publishing them. I believe ‘our wise professional decision’ as School Librarians is to minimize the transitional impact on our current teachers and students. Why do I say this?
CONSIDER OUR TEACHERS
I remember my first year as a new school librarian. The previous librarian had opened the new middle school and left after 2 years, but she had already done several collaborative lessons with teachers. Imagine my apprehension when a teacher came to me: “B_ and I did a unit on _____ and I want to do the same unit again this year.” The teacher didn’t know exactly what B_ had done for the lesson, so thank goodness I had her lesson files:
- I was able to find the lesson so the teacher didn’t need to spend inordinate amounts of her planning time to get me up to speed.
- I had a starting point for myself rather than scrambling to create something new and trying to determine what resources I had in my fledgling library for the lesson.
As the year progressed and I worked my way through the previous librarian’s lessons, I jotted down ideas for making them my own, but by not having to recreate already existing lessons, I had the time and enthusiasm to develop my own new lessons with teachers who hadn’t worked with B_. Thanks to her, my first year was a success with faculty.
Consider the alternative: if I were a classroom teacher who’d spent considerable time planning with the librarian, I’d be pretty upset if the new librarian had no information about those lessons. Even if she could create something new, I resent all the valuable time I’d spent planning with the previous librarian—possibly over several years. If all my hard work was down the drain and we had to redo it, I might not bother to plan lessons with any librarian, let alone each new one that arrived at my school.
With that in mind, I believe lessons generated through collaborative planning with teachers should remain on the campus to maintain the continuity a teacher would expect after putting time and energy into planning that lesson. One might even reason that any creations for the library during regular contract hours should remain on the campus, including signage, bulletin board decorations, and information documents. I suspect that’s the reasoning an administrator has when insisting lessons be left on the campus. This doesn’t preclude us from copying files and taking them with us, since we shouldn’t have to start from scratch at our new library, either!
CONSIDER THE INCOMING SCHOOL LIBRARIAN
One item that is particularly important to prepare early and leave behind is a detailed handbook for the incoming school librarian. In my case, the previous librarian left good lesson plans, but nothing else. Fortunately after only 2 years, there wasn’t much to catch up on, and I was able to easily pick up and establish my own policies & procedures.
After my 13 years—which had encompassed considerable changes—I knew I needed to offer some guidance to the new school librarian coming in. I’d actually created a School Librarian Handbook during my fourth year and updated it every other year. It began as a handbook for teachers, but mine kept growing, and theirs kept shrinking to a smaller and smaller handout, containing the essence of what our library program had to offer.
My School Librarian Handbook template is now available on my TPT store. It’s designed as an Annotated Table of Contents, organized according to:
- School Librarian Duties – Budget, Collection, Facility, and Lessons
- Librarian Administrative Tools (such as planning, reports, handouts)
- Other Non-Library Services (for school, district & state)
- Appendices with extended helpful examples & suggestions
- Topics on the main Table of Contents are hyperlinked to their related section pages
Because it’s a .docx file, it expands as you explain your philosophy, organization, policies & procedures, and add documentation for various library activities. In the end, you’ll have a customized guide to everything someone needs to know about your school library program.
We don’t normally expect to be moving on to another position, but in case we do, we want to prepare the incoming School Librarian with relevant collaborated lessons and a complete guide to the school library program.
Personal creations made on personal time, are our intellectual property; we needn’t share these freely, and we can take those files with us and use however we choose. It’s something to keep in mind each time we create something new: Should I work on this at home or at school? Will I want to take this or leave it when moving on?
When I retired I left everything I’d created at school because I knew I wouldn’t be using it for a new library. I did, however, copy it all to a USB drive. This has been very helpful for comparing school vs. home creations when deciding to share ideas with other librarians on listservs and social media, where I am still active.
I am now in the process of updating my personal Library Lessons to align with CCSS, NGSS, C3SS, and National School Library Standards. I’m also careful to obtain copyright free images so I can make my materials available to other librarians and teachers through various online services:
- This Looking Backward Blog will freely share ideas and activities through topical blog posts and the Free Resources link above.
- YouTube and Vimeo host my free videos, and I’ll mention free items on other sites in blog posts.
- My own Library Lesson packages are available for a small cost through “No Sweat Library“, my TeachersPayTeachers store. I provide a completely updated lesson plan, new slide presentations with PDF Notes, updated student worksheets for lesson activities, and any secured multimedia files pertinent to the lesson.
Leaving our “School Library Home” is a difficult enough decision for any librarian, and we don’t want emotional disagreements over our library lessons. It’s never too early to contemplate what to leave and what to take when moving on—I considered this 8 years before I had to unexpectedly retire due to health issues.