I’ve been in my library job for nearly two months now, so I thought I’d share a bit about what I do (because it’s half term and I’ve got the time!). This is my first library job ever, so I came with an open mind though I knew a fair amount about the field from job hunting, conferences, volunteering in archives and libraries and my own research. My school has about 1,000 students and the library holds over 3,000 books (mainly fiction) and has 25 computers. The library is open before and after school, during break and lunch and it’s also used as a classroom for reading lessons. It’s considered a bookable resource so teachers can also book it for their lessons if they need a classroom.
I’m job sharing the library work with a colleague, but since she didn’t start until October I was on my own for the first month. I’m responsible for general library duties including cataloguing, issues/returns, shelving, IT support and supervising students in the library. I also handle room bookings for the library and two other meeting rooms within it. I spend a lot of time checking students are reading on the right level, helping the reluctant ones choose books and generally policing behaviour in the library. I’ve also had a few different systems to learn: Alice (library management system), SIMs (school information management system used for timetables, attendance and logging behaviour), and also the Accelerated Reader scheme and all the various school rules I’m meant to enforce! I enjoy helping out in the reading lessons, especially the Years 7s who are new to the school, the ‘proper’ library system where you have to check books out and the Accelerated Reader scheme. The scheme is American (I actually did it when I was in elementary school in Louisiana) and helps measure student progress and ‘accelerate’ their reading/literacy skills. Students take a test three times a year which gives them a reading age and range of book levels, they then choose a book at their level and take a quiz when they’ve finished which tests their comprehension of the book. If they pass at 80% or higher they move up one level, if not they stay on the same level. I like the scheme and it seems to be successful. It certainly is a very clear way to show student progress since they record their progress in their reading journal at every fortnightly reading lesson.
In addition to my library work, I’m spending about two days a week doing support work in the music department. Since I’m not a trained teacher (though I have music teaching experience) I don’t actually do any teaching but I support the Year 7-8 music lessons. This has been fun, but also a big adjustment in terms of teaching method. We use a new method called ‘Musical Futures’ that I’m growing to like more and more. It’s very non-traditional and non-classical, where music theory, learning to read music and and learning an instrument are not emphasised much at all. Basically it’s the opposite of how I learnt music! The idea is to ‘hook’ kids in by making music very accessible where everyone can get involved and have fun making music. Then later they can progress on to learning an instrument, reading sheet music etc. So we use a lot of percussion, what I call ‘rock band’ instruments (guitar, piano, drum kit, bass) and learn various 4-chord pop songs and some basic musical elements such as pitch, tempo and dynamics. Since music is compulsory for Year 7-8, Musical Futures seems to work well in engaging both the keen musicians and students who are just there because they have to be.
I’ve also been working on a project on reading motivation which I hope to blog about soon and have another few projects brewing. Thinking about my future and CPD, I want to work through the CILIP competency framework (aka the PKSB) and set some goals of things I want to accomplish this year in terms of librarianship skills. It’s been great so far actually working in a library because a) I quite enjoy it, b) I’m earning money, c) I’m being challenged and d) it’s giving me the experience I need to get on a postgrad LIS course!