The principal of the school suggested I apply for the position of TL as the former TL was taking up a new appointment. The library technician was a very creative person who I was just getting to know when the opportunity arose and the first thought I had was, wouldn’t it be great to work with her. She thinks like me and it would be fun to work alongside someone with a similar work ethic. I had just finished a difficult year in a team where outlooks varied; I felt drained and was seeking refuge. Being Irish trained and not having TLs at home, I really didn’t have a great understanding of the position.
I love I.T. and we have a school intranet. So I was quite keen to help develop the Library portal site. I am the English leader for Prep to 6 and I thought being in the Library would assist me in my role and I would get to intimately know the literature and teacher reference collections. I also thought ‘oh goodness’ I am not the most organised so this position will definitely improve my organisational skills.
I thought it would be cool to hold the scanner and ‘bip’ out the books. It would be great to have control on the budget and order what I wanted. I relished the thought of reading lots of picture story books and novels to my classes. I never thought about how to catalogue a book or about covering them! After just 5 weeks in the position my perception of the role of a TL has completely changed.
I just remember the former TL went quietly about his job. He issued Literature Circle books on time, he would do a project alongside the Inquiry topic but I never really knew what it entailed. I would just insert the comment in the appropriate space in the report. He would say ‘let’s meet’ but we never did. Book Week would get him in a fluster and a flurry and so this year I thought it might be fun to organize some creative events and change around the timetable that had been stagnant for years. (Now I am finding it difficult to lock in a visiting author for this year’s event!!) It certainly isn’t as easy as it looked. May I add, he was employed as a full time TL where as I am four days with one day allocated to being English Leader. It’s hectic to say the least! He was always very helpful and gave me ‘fish’ (reading nourishment). Every time I wanted a book he would locate it and sign it out in my name. I never knew where it lived or really understood the Dewey system. However, suddenly at the beginning of the year, I was left holding the fishing rod and I wasn’t very sure what I was going to do with it. I was in charge of distributing the fish!!! Teachers sent students down while I was teaching to change books and I really believe they are thinking that I just read books to students so it isn’t a ‘real’ interruption. They come in and say ‘x’ book is not on the shelf where it usually is, where is it? I need to borrow this out immediately? Do I really have to have it scanned, I am in a hurry?
My head is spinning as I try and grapple with this new role and terminology. I am delighted to have the opportunity to study as I try and get my head around cataloging, SCIS and Spydus! I am not sure where I will end up but what I am certain of is that I will not continue to distribute ‘fish’. I really want to improve the library so that it is assessable to all. I would like it to be a collaborative effort. I would like teachers to have a better understanding of teacher librarianship. I hope that they can all accompany me on this learning journey.
PS. I love working with the library technician. I’d be lost without her.
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