May 1, 2013

New School Visit

So I visited my new school yesterday.  Everyone seems so nice and helpful but I may have bitten off more than I realize.  Over a thousand kids and no clerk?  Whew!

It's a bit farther from my house, but not a bad drive and it only gives me more time with my audiobooks, so that's all good.

Things I have to do at my current school that I won't have to worry about at the new school: bulletin boards, laminating, making slideshows for the announcements, looking for where someone else left the cordless phone, answering the phone no less than ten times a day to tell someone looking for the clerk that I haven't a clue where she went, helping the clerk look for her reading glasses, teach classes as part of the Specials rotation, pick up extra Specials classes when the counselor can't be there for hers.

Things I'll have to do at the new school that I don't do now (or only sometimes do): shelve books, check books in and out, run the Accelerated Reader program,  announce the buses and day care vans for dismissal (right now I put the arrivals on the slides, but don't announce them).

Sounds like a pretty good trade until you realize that there are over a thousand kids and without a clerk I could spend half my life shelving and checking in and out books.  But I'm working on it.  And they've already been working on it.

At my current school I have already been teaching teachers to check out their own classes because it's just not that hard and the clerk is often out and I'd rather be helping kids find books.  At my new school, after losing the clerk they have actually been experimenting with getting the kids to check themselves out!  From what I saw it mostly works but still requires supervision.  The biggest problem is that when one kid checks out, their information is still up on the screen.  The software isn't set p for self-checkouts. They have to remember to take the mouse and click on "reset" so it's cleared for the next student.  If they don't, not only can others see what they've checked out, but they could potentially have books on their accounts they didn't check out.

My plan is to make doubly sure teachers can check out their own classes, but also to make a big push for volunteers.  I've already got someone talking to the PTA about maybe setting up a volunteer committee and helping me find enough people to staff the circulation desk.  Ideally I'd get ten reliable volunteers, two four-hour blocks per day.  I'd create a training binder and get them really well trained on shelving correctly and checking in/out.  I know it's a fantasy, but that's what I'll shoot for and whoever I actually get I'll fill in the most needed areas first.  Thursdays and Fridays are always the busiest.

One thing the previous Media Specialist did to survive was use book fair money to pay someone to come in on Fridays to help shelve.  It sounds good on paper but the problem is that it kind of reinforces to the administration that cutting the clerk position was an okay decision.  I think I'd rather be underwater with shelving and continue to put in plugs for at least a half time clerk than spend money I'd rather use on new books and have everything kept up.  But we'll see what happens after I've been there a few months.

It was great seeing a few people I knew from a previous job.  It's a relatively new school (opened in 2009) and is near my previous school so there are at least half a dozen or so familiar faces.   And like I said, it everyone I talked to was delightful.  One girl apparently asked her teacher if she could go to the library just to come meet me.  She had even written a letter and brought it to me:

"Dear Mr. Randolph,
     I think you are going to be a spectacular Librarian. Some of the books are real Masterpieces. There is gary Paulsen, Dr. seuss for the Little ones, Encylopedias, almanacs, dictionarys, and other huge books...anyways I know you are going to have a Lot of fun with this Job.
PS: You will see me in the Library a Lot! :)"
Yay, fellow nerd!  I loved that and it reminds me that hey, even if I end up being a glorified clerk the worst that would happen is that I narrow my focus to just getting the right book to the right reader. That's the best part of the job anyway.