Today I went back to the very first school setting I stepped foot in as a junior Social Studies Education major. Back in 2007. Technically I had stepped foot there before, as a sub a handful of times in 2013. But obviously, for this post, let’s not count those handful of visits.
This time instead of heading to the Government/Econ class, I stopped half-down the hall and walked into the Media Center.
Things were different and they were very much the same. The room smelled the same, the must of books and the stillness of a morning library that hasn’t quite gotten its start. But there were so very nice changes. The furniture was updated, shelving had been moved around and rearranged. Also the head librarian, who graciously invited me, I had never met before.
First off, her blouse and earrings were amazing! A floral and ruffle shirt and a boho dangle made me instantly like her. And her energy was fantastic. I found myself asking her to host a podcast and that I would listen to her as she motivates teachers and librarians.
I knew right away that I was going to learn a lot.
The day started with an advisory meeting, which was extra fun since that meant seeing students interacting in the library. It was contagious to hear about their animal service project and listen to students presenting to their peers.
Next came a tour of the library.
The library is a long rectangle of a room, with an entire wall of windows facing the street. The natural sunlight makes the room an inviting and relaxed place. The most interesting set-up to me was the the fiction and nonfiction were at opposite ends of the room. Separated by quite a large space of desks, tables and alternative seating.
Scattered throughout the room are comfy caffe-style chairs and tables with puzzles, games and coloring sheets. It was altogether a very cozy space. You could smell hints of spring as the weather was particularly nice and the sunlight was streaming in through the windows.
The first bell of the day rung and students came trickling in. This was my moment to watch the interactions between the librarian and her students. It was obvious that she worked hard to develop a good relationship with her students. She knew their names, chatted about scholarships and college, and greeted each one warmly.
Mostly the students were quietly chatting in groups at the tables, studying for classes or reading.
After second block had started, we went on a small trip around the front of the school and up to a class on the 2nd floor hall to give a student a book. We chatted about how to build relationships with teachers that are increasingly busy and students that are glued to electronic devices.
I believe that the small act of bringing a student a requested book was a way to build and maintain those relationships. It was a day without any lessons in the library, and it took all of five minutes.
Now, scattered throughout our interactions was a healthy dose of tough-love from the librarian to her students. The most common student interaction was printing needs. There were instructions printed on the table and not once did the librarian complete the task for them. She directed them to the correct table that had the instructions, and told them she was there if they needed any extra help.
Now, don’t think that this whole day was spent with me doing nothing! I learned how to check books in and out to students. I re-shelved the returned books throughout the day. I also learned how to cover hardback books with a dust jacket. I mostly managed to not mangle the job too horribly! We ran a job through the laminating machine, and I got all my questions answered and more.
At the end of the day, I left with so much to think about! But I knew that I had met a superhero of a librarian and that no matter where I ended up in the future, she would be there to lend a helping hand.