We are excited to share this guest blog written by Wendy Chapman, Library Officer at Wyalkatchem District High School.
Wendy has worked at Wyalkatchem District High School for over 16 years. Wyalkatchem DHS, in the Central Wheatbelt, caters for Kindergarten students through to Year 10. The focus is on maximising individual potential, academic and social, so that students can later excel in the workplace and become active, confident, and valued participants in society.
Wendy has a hearing impairment and her Australian Lions Hearing Dog, Winston, often accompanies her to school. Winston loves to interact with the students and the students certainly love him.
Often in schools the Library Officer is a "wearer of many hats"; Wendy certainly requires many hooks on her hat rack!
In this post, Wendy shares with us a typical day in her school library and offers insight into the role of a Library Officer.
There are a myriad of reasons why I love my job as a Library Officer (LO) at a small rural District High School but the biggest one is because every day is different.
Yes, the main aims remain constant. We support the curriculum by ensuring the appropriate books are available, and we share our own passion for literacy and reading with our students by making our libraries a vibrant and exciting space. Even after sixteen years as an LO, I go to work excited to discover what each day will bring.
Here is a description of today to give you some idea of what my days involve.
My school days start at around 7.30am. I arrive early to prepare for the day knowing that, because my first two hours of each day are spent helping our Deputy with intervention classes, I won’t get back to the library until after recess which is when my first library class arrives. I check my emails and respond to any needing an immediate reply, ensure that my LMS is turned on and ready for action, check my birthday calendar to see if I need to wish anyone Happy Birthday and give the birthday boy/girl a badge to wear for the day.
By then it’s 8am so I head over to the canteen to set up for Breakfast Club which I run with the help of a couple of high school helpers. Dishes done… bell’s about to go …. time for intervention… then recess… and now I’m back in the library ready for the Year 5/6 class to arrive.
Their teacher usually gets them to do a short book review of the book they’re returning and then I scan all those books while they are choosing new ones. Then, when they’re scanned out, we gather on the mat where I read a few chapters from the book they chose at the beginning of the term.
This is always a big decision and it takes most of the first library session each term to choose one that fits the criteria. It has to be suitable for both genders, relatively short, and not too many pictures because Ms Chapman can’t read pictures!
One of our favourites was a nonfiction book of court cases. Students loved listening to the evidence presented and we’d try to guess what the verdict would be before I read it out.
Our library sessions are one hour so the teacher often has an activity planned for them to do after this, but I always have a variety of puzzles, colouring pages, bookmarks to create etc. or, if an event like Mothers’ Day, ANZAC Day or Easter is coming up, I will have discussed this with the teachers earlier and have a craft activity for them to do.
I don’t have a class the period before lunch so today I’m able to accession and cover the books I purchased from the Book Fair a couple of weeks ago. My takings were down due to falling student numbers and a changing of our demographics so there is not the usual giant bundle of new books to do.
Once they’re done, I place them on the New Book Shelves and shelve the books that were there in their proper place. If I hadn't had books to accession, I would have used this period to do our new “Author of the Month” display but the lunch bell is two minutes away so last month’s Roald Dahl display will have to stay there for a couple of extra days.
It’s early close day today so only one more class in after lunch, the 2/3/4’s. Their routine is pretty much identical to the year 5/6’s except I usually choose the book we’re going to read.
Once they’ve gone, I re-shelve the books that have been returned today, print out overdue notices for the students who didn't return their books today, and put them in the teachers’ pigeonholes for them to distribute tomorrow.
I still have 20 minutes before the bell goes, so I have time to ensure everything is organised for tomorrow and check and respond to emails that have come in during the day. The K/PP/1 teacher has asked me to find her a few books with farm animals in them so I gather those, scan them, close down the computer, and deliver them to her room before I head for home.
I make a mental note to myself that I need to date and distribute the new book club catalogues and check to see if the teachers have decided on their themes for next term so that I can check and see if I need to order some new books on those subjects tomorrow.
As I mentioned at the start my days are never the same. While the day described is a typical one there are many, many other tasks that LOs undertake.
Some open during lunchtimes giving students a safe, quiet space to escape too. Some are responsible for their school newsletter, Yearbook, and Facebook page. I’m also my school’s unofficial photographer so I’m on hand for sports days, incursions, and special events whenever possible.
I’m sure most LOs will agree when I say I’m happy to do the extra tasks not covered by our JDF because I love what I do, and I do it for the kids!
School library staff do more than just read. We know that!
But responses to the Annual School Library Survey reveal a general sense that not enough is known about the amazing work that you do.
Share your story with us and help us to promote your role. Whether you are a Teacher Librarian, Librarian, Library Officer, Library Technician, Library Assistant… whatever your role, we’d love to hear from you!
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