Love Your School Library

That new book smell is everywhere. The posters are up. The books are on display. Student library accounts have been added or updated. Lesson plans are (almost) finished. Getting ready for a new year in the school library is akin to getting ready for Christmas, and the night before school begins is a sort of Christmas Eve, full of preparation and anticipation.

The story corner is waiting for children like a decked-out Christmas tree.
The story corner is waiting for children like a decked-out Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.

Harold Howe II (1918-2002), author and former U.S. Commissioner of Education, said “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.” Even if your livelihood doesn’t depend on the existence of a school library as mine does, I think many of you can agree with Mr. Howe.

But the sad fact is not all schools have libraries. Those that do are fortunate, especially if students, like at our school, have library as a weekly class, and can also make a quick trip when it’s not their designated day to take out or return books.

Every level of school represents a student population with a wide range of interests and abilities to work with. Ultimately, the goal is to make each student’s library time meaningful. But that requires collaboration. Students, families, teachers, and staff all have a part to play. At the beginning of each school year, librarians have the opportunity to let the students know what their role is in that partnership. Hopefully, students get the opportunity to voice their expectations, as well. So I’m putting on my cat-eye glasses and going total librarian to give you some idea of what the home piece of this puzzle is. In the interest of full disclosure, I really do have cat-eye glasses. So trendy.

  1. Read, read, read. This is the most important item on the list. Children who see their role models reading are more likely to read on their own. As a parent or guardian, or just someone loved by an impressionable little human, you’re automatically a role model. Books, magazines, newspapers –hardcopy or electronic – all count. And whether or not you read for yourself, at the very least, read to and with your children. No matter what.
    The great family tradition of story time, circa 1975. My parents and little brothers enjoying the great Richard Scarry.
    The great family tradition of story time, circa 1975. My parents and little brothers enjoying the great Richard Scarry.

    You’re tired, busy, stressed, frazzled. Do it anyway. The littlest littles will love having that time with you and remember it fondly when they aren’t little anymore. And when they’re not so little, it’s a wonderfully sneaky way to get them to sit down and have time with you. After reading, talk about what they read. Get their opinions and get them to make predictions. It’ll help them comprehend the story better and give you a little more insight into the wonderful people they’re becoming.

  2. Participate. Does your school library need volunteers at the circulation desk, with shelving, or during the book fair? Do you have time in your schedule? It may be as much as a couple of hours a week or as little as an hour a year. But you, your child, and your child’s school library will benefit from it.
    Volunteer in your school's library, or just visit.
    Volunteer in your school’s library, or just visit.

    This might be the hardest one for most families. Your librarian understands. We have multiple commitments, too. At least don’t be a stranger. Stop by the library during open house or other school events and say hello.

  3. Know your due dates. This is important for students and their parents. The younger the student, the more the onus is on the parent/guardian to know due dates. Decide in your household who bears what portion of that responsibility. A good way to keep track of due dates is to note them on a calendar (paper or electronic). Let your children do it, and it’ll make them more part of the process. These days not all libraries stamp due dates in the books. They just give you a receipt (to lose). In our school library, we’re stampers. Old school works for us for some things.
  4. Think of overdue notices as gentle reminders. That’s really what they are. Really. I jokingly call them nasty notes, but they aren’t.
    Overdue books? It doesn't have to get ugly.
    Overdue books? It doesn’t have to get ugly.

    Librarians just want to make sure the books are available to others as quickly as possible. Also remember that these notices are often automatically generated, so your child is likely to get one if the due date coincides with a school absence. If it’s a hardcopy given to your child, let him or her know that it’s important to bring it home.

  5. Let your librarian know (gently, like an overdue book reminder) if you believe a damage/overdue/lost book notice was received erroneously. We’re human. Mostly. We make mistakes. Especially during book fair.
  6. Return damaged books for repairs. People have the best intentions when they try to repair school library books, but it’s not a good idea. Send it back with a note about the damage so it doesn’t accidentally get checked in and shelved in damaged condition. If it can’t be repaired, don’t be surprised to get a bill for the cost to replace the book.

    All in a day's work!
    All in a day’s work!
  7. Let the librarian replace lost or damaged items. It will probably eventually be on your nickel, but don’t buy a replacement copy of a lost or damaged library item unless you’ve made arrangements with your librarian. Replacing a library-bound edition with a mass market paperback? Nope.

Happy new school year! I hope this list is helpful. Until next time, keep reading!

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2 thoughts on “Love Your School Library

  1. Great reminders for parents of young (and not so young!) children — I cherish the memories of reading with my kids, and look forward to reading to the grandkids!!! Love your humor and your insight!

    Liked by 1 person

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