A Post from the Past- “It Looks Like They Run The Place”

As I have been exploring my ideas about librarianship the last couple of weeks, I haven’t really written or posted anything lately. I’ve been quietish on Twitter and posted about other things on Facebook. But during this time I went and read the blog I kept while I was in Library school and while I was working as an elementary school librarian. I was reminded of why I became a librarian in the first place.

This post, and a few others to come are going to be reposted from my old blog to remind me what I thought was important and what I still think is important after years of hard labor as a “real” librarian. This post was called:

It Looks Like They Run The Place (and They Do)

At the beginning of the school year one of the students who had helped in the library quite a bit last year asked if he could have a nametag like someone would wear at a real job. Thinking that I would humor him, and besides he had actually done a lot in the library, I made one out of a piece construction paper. It was handwritten, had his name under the words “library assistant” and it was taped to his shirt. He wore so proudly that soon I had a large number of students coming into the library asking if they could be library assistants too. At the time I was putting together my display for October so I told them that if they could find 5 library books about something happening in October to add to the display then they could be library assistants too. Much to my surprise they did it enthusiastically. It took many of them 4-6 days to find all the books but very few students gave up trying. So now, about a month and a half later I have about 15 library assistants.

Here are the new typed nametags. I just like the way they looks all lined up like this.

This means my role in the library has drastically changed. I now have a more of a supervisory role. My assistants have taken on a number of projects of their own that they designed and that they are in charge of. Every once in a while I design a project for them and they take it over, but they are getting better and better at creating some of their own ideas and putting them into action.

One of the projects that I assigned to them was the creation of more posters similar to the ones I had described in an earlier post. After I remove a cover they cut it up and tape it together and staple it to the wall wherever they can find an open space. Here is the picture of their work;

They have also taken over the monthly displays. The display at the front of my desk is reserved for events that take place throughout the month such as holidays during the current month or events that happened in that month. These are where the five books that students find to be a library assistant are displayed.

There is also a display on a long shelf that they completely control. They decide what kind of books are put up there and they create the signage for it. It is completely theirs. This is what it looks like.

Lastly, the students can also create their own books that I catalogue, put in the collection, and allow them to check out. Some of the teachers also have classroom projects where the class creates a book for the library and I do the same with that one as well. Since they are almost always checked out this is the only picture of one that I have.



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About pcsweeney

Currently, I'm the Branch Manager of the East Palo Alto Library in California. If you find yourself to be extremely bored (and would like to be more bored) you can find all of my internet mind droppings about libraries by googling pcsweeney.
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21 Responses to A Post from the Past- “It Looks Like They Run The Place”

  1. Nicole says:

    Love that they created their own books for the library to be checked out!

  2. What a clever idea! What level were these students?

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