I need to get a grip…

Yesterday I noticed that my new book order is in–10 boxes of new books for our students! Good news! Now I just need to get them into circulation.

This used to be part of my annual goals, for Learning/Work Environment : As the public face of the library, regularly smile at students and staff. I think I need to reinstate that; it doesn’t come so naturally any more. I’m completely overwhelmed with everything I need to do at the moment, but I’m taking a few minutes for reflection here. I’ve already snapped at a few people this morning for no good reason, and I need to get a grip. Consider this your inside look at the job of a solo school librarian.

My primary task each day is checking books in and out for the classes and individual students who come into the library. That takes priority over everything except fire and bleeding (knock wood!). Today I have six 6th-grade classes scheduled to come in for checkout, plus the dozens of students who come in on passes.

Both book carts are full of books to be shelved. They’re sorted by numbered books vs fiction, but that’s it. I’ve started shelving fiction, up to H, and those shelves are straightened with books displayed on top. I got the Library Guild to do some actual straightening on Monday, so the shelves don’t look quite as trashed as they usually do. I do have two volunteers who come in to help with shelving, and two substitute teachers who help with that occasionally. Thanks to them, I rarely have to shelve books, which really helps. Unfortunately, everything else requires training, which isn’t time-effective with occasional workers.

I’m running out of space in the back office for books that need to be mended. I fix things on the fly when I can, but the rest I check out to Mending and put in the back til later. Right now there are 198 books checked out to Mending. There’s also half a cart full of books that have been weeded, but need processing to be discarded.

I also have a cart full of new books from the book fair that we had in November. The Library Guild (student after-school club) stamped them and put bar codes on, but I need to import and edit a MARC record and a copy record for each one. I also need to put plastic covers on dust jackets for 16 of them.

I finally got my book orders done before the deadline at the end of February, hence the 10 boxes of new books downstairs. I don’t even know where to put the boxes. Although I order them fully processed, I’ll need to check them in on the packing list, stamp each one, check the MARC records, add the cost to the copy records, check the call numbers and change the spine labels if necessary.

After I get all that done, maybe I can print up some more genre bookmarks and create a book list for Hi-Lo books (high-interest, low reading level).

Oh! I forgot–I still need to work on the student data upon which my 5-year evaluation partially rests. I also need to sort through my professional development options to make sure I meet my state recertification deadline this June.

Of course, I still feel lucky to have my job; others haven’t been. I also have good friends who help me sort things out, and a wonderful husband who will come in to help out. It’s just a little overwhelming sometimes. Thanks for listening 🙂


Professional Virtual World Adventures

Last summer I took a class with the NorthTIER consortium on Virtual Worlds and Games in Education, taught by Laura Briggs. My initial goal was to learn to use Second Life to attend VSTE meetings and professional development sessions online. I learned so much more–my professional and personal worlds have been expanded exponentially.

When I started using Second Life (SL), I had a steep learning cliff to conquer. It took me a week to learn how to move my avatar around effectively, and a month before I learned how to change my clothes. I persisted because the people I met there were so helpful and welcoming that I wanted to participate in the communities that I found.

As you know, my job as a solo school librarian is extremely isolating. I am a team of one, in a building of 800+ people. My district is kind enough to let me run SL in school, making it possible to attend inworld meetings during the day, and to network with people on my few occasions for downtime. I am able, from my computer here, to have meaningful professional interchanges with people all over the world.

Currently I am a member of 18 different educational groups in Second Life. I attend Virtual Pioneers meetings on Sunday nights; VSTE meetings on Monday nights; ISTE office hours on Tuesday nights; ISTE meetings and socials, plus VSTE planning meetings, on Wednesday nights; VWER meetings on Thursdays after school; and BIO-SE and Nonprofit Commons meetings on Fridays during school. Because the latter two are conducted in chat rather than voice, I can follow along even when I have classes coming in to check out books. I consider myself a liaison between all of the groups, and I do lots of cross-postings of meeting notifications among all of them. I like being able to connect people together, and help create community. I’ve been enriched so much–it’s a virtual world, but the people are real.