Preparing your school library for term 1

I've always loved the start of the school year. It's an exciting time, when you can make a fresh start, meet new friends, try new things — and get new stationery!

Now, I’m not wanting to wish away your summer break before it’s even begun, but this is a good time to be thinking about how you want to start the new school year. What will you do that’s fresh? What cool library things have you heard about and been dying to try in your school? Who do you want to connect with and welcome into the library?

Open book with a heart graphic coming out from its centreBook, Education, School by Hermann. CCO 1.0

Let’s start with a few questions about the year that’s drawing to a close

  • What happened in your library this year that was awesome? Can you recreate that? How could you make it even better next year?
  • What did you learn this year that you can try next year? Do you have ideas to follow up from a National Library network meeting or from this year’s SLANZA conference, or shared through your personal learning network (PLN)?
  • Who did you work closely with this year, and what was the impact of that for your students? Can you build up strong relationships with others too, so that you’re making a difference for even more people?
Here are a few things you’ll need to do early in term 1. If you’ve got time, why not start now by doing some advance reading, thinking, and planning?

Welcome new people to your school library

How do you welcome new students, families, whānau, and staff to your school library? Think about the sort of impression you want to create, and what are the most important things people need to know when they first come to the library.

Library orientation sessions

If you run library orientation sessions for new students, keep these positive — focus on what people can do, rather than what they can’t do.

Encouraging reading for pleasure is a key role for the library, so make sure you build in time to share a few great books with your new students.

Explain things about your library that might be different than what they’ve experienced before, particularly for students moving from primary to intermediate, or onto secondary school.

And allow plenty of time for people to explore the library and discover things for themselves.

Tell new teachers how you can help them

Think about how to share with new teachers the ways you can help them.

Is there a staff induction day before school starts where they can:

  • walk through the library
  • get an introduction to your library services, and
  • ask you any questions they have about the library?

Create new borrowers in your library software

Try to avoid (or at least minimise) time at the start of the year when people can't borrow.

Can you automate data transfer from your school’s Student Management System into your Integrated Library System (ILS)? Ask your IT staff or your ILS provider for help if you’re not sure. If no direct transfer is possible, talk to your IT or administration staff to see if you can streamline this process.

Check your signage is clear and your learning spaces entice

  • Check your signage. Is it clear where things are, and where to get help? Can people tell what happens in different parts of your library?
  • Create a space that entices people in. What do you notice when you look into your library from the outside? New students and their families might walk around the school over summer break to get a feel for the place. What will they see if they look through the library windows?

Set up a team of student volunteers

Think about how many helpers you need, and what work they’ll do.

Check out our web page about student librarians, which includes job descriptions and application forms you can use or adapt if yours need updating.

Encourage more reading

You might be in the lucky position of knowing you’ll have a fresh budget allocation at the start of the year. Check out some 'best of 2017' book lists online now and add some to your wish-list! For example:

Some suppliers may offer school account holders the option to order books this year, for delivery and payment in January. This will give you  fresh new books waiting for students when school starts again.

Think about how you'll wrap up summer reading after the holidays. Will you have a celebration? What information will you gather and share that shows the success of your summer reading programme?

Get books and resources ready for next year

It might be too early yet to know your school’s specific curriculum plans for 2018, but there may be some things you can do now. Make sure you’re ready for resourcing inquiry topics and research-related assessments early next term.

Use the National Library’s lending service — we’ve just made some changes to the way the service works to give you more flexibility in ordering whole-school loans and specific titles anytime. Take a look at:

Find digital resources — brush up your knowledge of digital sources for supporting inquiry and research. Our web page digital resources and guides is a great place to start.

Plan your own professional development

If you’ve recently had a performance appraisal, you will have set some goals for the coming year. Find out what professional development options might work for you, such as:

Review your systems and processes

The things you do, and the way you work, should provide the best support possible for your learners. The start of the year could be a good time to introduce new ways of getting things done.

What can you streamline in your library — or what could you stop doing — that will free up more time for you to work with teachers and students?

Steph Ellis’s presentation from SLANZA's 2017 conference Things I no longer do offers some suggestions.

By Miriam Tuohy

Miriam is the Senior Specialist (School Library Development) for Services to Schools.

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