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10 Essential Tips for New Librarians

Being a new librarian can be overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with the ins and outs of the profession. You can succeed in library services with the correct strategies, tools, and resources. This will enable you to provide excellent service to library users. Here I’ll share some effective tips for new librarians to help them navigate their way through the challenges of the job. These tips come from veteran and new school librarians!

Connect with Others

1. Build a Strong Professional Learning Network:

Networking is crucial in any profession, and librarians are no exception. As a new school librarian, it is essential to build a strong professional network. This could include colleagues, mentors, and other professionals in the field. Attend local and national conferences and join professional organizations and library associations.

Joining national and state associations often give you access to online forums and discussions allowing you to connect with other librarians and learn from their experiences. These organizations have great mixes of veteran and new librarians, so don’t feel intimidated to join.

Part of this networking is also connecting with the teachers at your school, especially the new teachers. Teachers will be the customers who you will be able to work with to make the biggest impact in your building.

Great places to search for professional networks are:

Being a new librarian can be overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with the ins and outs of the profession. You can succeed in library services with the correct strategies, tools, and resources. This will enable you to provide excellent service to library users. Here I'll share some effective tips for new librarians to help them navigate their way through the challenges of the job.  These tips come from veteran and new school librarians!
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2. Social Media

Social media is a great place to bounce ideas off other librarians and allow you to find groups that you feel comfortable in. There are many groups on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube that offer a variety of networking opportunities whether it’s to get quick questions answered or even just to find a laugh about something you probably deal with frequently.

There’s a group out there for you on whatever social media platform you prefer! I like Facebook myself, and there are groups like Laughing Librarian and Future Ready Librarians that give me my daily dose of laughs and ideas.

new librarian using social media

3. Find a Mentor

I can’t say it enough: Find a mentor. Having a go-to person who you can reach out to on a daily basis that has been there is invaluable. Being a school librarian is often a pretty solitary job depending on your work situation. When it’s not solitary, it’s generally because you did something to make a lot of people angry.

Your mentor can bring the know-how and experience to help you fix that one small problem or help you navigate a much more complicated one. As a new school librarian, even if you had experience as a student teacher, you don’t know what you don’t know, and usually a mentor DOES know and can help you in ways you didn’t even know you needed. Meanwhile, your mentor gets a new way of looking at the job that might give them ideas.

new librarian and mentor discussing ideas

Manage Your Space

4. Develop Your Collection

Do you have a budget? Is it minimal or so crushingly enormous that you wish you had less? Take a look at the books in your collection. You can do this by just plain walking through the shelves. You can also use systems like Titlewave to analyze the age of your collection, percentage of fiction/nonfiction, diversity metrics, etc.

Software like this can help you determine where you should focus your budget dollars to make the most impact. Are your shelves packed with old books? Maybe you need to go through and weed books that just aren’t getting circulated and replace the worn out favorites.

5. Set Clear Expectations

Any time you manage a space, you need to create clear guidelines and structure for what is expected for all library routines. A word of caution: Talk to other teachers and administrators in your building about how things were before. Find out what people liked about the library and what they may have liked to be different.

Be slow to make a change, but be decisive when you do. Any change you make to library structure will be questioned. Start by making small changes and give explanations for why you are making those changes. This will be critical to keep support from all stakeholders.

  • How will students enter and exit the space?
  • How many books will they be able to check out and when do they need to return books?
  • What should library classes look like?
  • What should students bring? What should they NOT bring?

We often hear talk about classroom management. Your library is your classroom. Teach, practice, and reteach your expectations once you set them. Then, you’ll have a more successful and less stressful school year!

Do not forget about lesson planning! Library lesson plans are just as important as they are for classroom teachers.

6. Manage Your Collection

How is your library organized? Is it genrefied? Are there clear spaces for different levels of kids to find books for them? How are sections labeled and can students navigate the library? Can you easily navigate it, and it makes sense to you? What changes might you make to library organization to help kids find the books that are perfect for them?

Determine how you will circulate books and when you will shelve books returned. Should students return books when they come to the library, before school or the day before? Set up reports to be run so students and families know when a book is overdue, and schedule them so you don’t have to manually do it.

teacher librarian managing collection

Be a Leader

7. Stay Up-to-Date with the Latest Trends and Technologies:

The world of libraries is constantly evolving, and new technologies and trends are emerging all the time. Remember: you’re a library MEDIA specialist. You’ll often be counted on to help with technology and other media. To provide the best possible service to your library users, it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of educational technology.

Attend workshops and training sessions, read professional journals and blogs, and participate in online courses and webinars to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date. If teachers come to ask you about something, and you don’t have experience with it, be honest! But say you’ll be happy to learn more about it and report back! It’s a great opportunity to form relationships with colleagues by sharing your vulnerability and positive attitude.

8. Embrace Change and Adapt:

Change is inevitable in any profession, and librarianship is no exception. As a new librarian, it is essential to embrace change and be willing to adapt to new technologies, trends, and best practices. Stay flexible and open-minded, and be willing to try new approaches and strategies to improve your services.

You are a resource for kids but also teachers. New curriculum? Collaborate with grade level teams to identify places where the library can support their work by providing resources and research skills.

9. Develop Strong Communication Skills:

Effective communication is key to success in any profession, and being a school librarian is no exception. As a new librarian, it is essential to develop strong communication skills, including verbal and written communication, active listening, and interpersonal skills. Listen carefully to your library users’ needs and concerns, and communicate clearly and effectively to provide the best possible service.

With students, they don’t always directly tell you what they need. Do you often find yourself explaining to students where to find books? They’re telling you that you need better signage or more teaching around navigating the library.

Seek feedback and be specific about what you want feedback on. Provide multiple opportunities and a variety of opportunities to seek input including digital and written tools.

10. Advocate

Now more than ever it is important for librarians to advocate for all. We serve our communities, both vocal minorities and silent majorities. Advocate for all by following library policy and insist it be followed. Just as you manage students in your library with consistent expectations, you also need to be consistent with library policy.

Find ways to build connections with administrators, teachers and parent organizations to demonstrate the need and importance of the library media center and library programming. Sometimes the best way to do this is by letting people know about what is happening in the library through social media, planned events like school book fairs, and presenting at staff meeting and PTA meetings.

happy new librarian shelving books

Conclusion:

Being a new librarian can be challenging, but with the right strategies and tools, you can succeed in this field and provide excellent service to your library users. By connecting with others, managing your space, and being a leader, you can become an effective, successful school librarian.

Being a new librarian can be overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with the ins and outs of the profession. You can succeed in library services with the correct strategies, tools, and resources. This will enable you to provide excellent service to library users. Here I'll share some effective tips for new librarians to help them navigate their way through the challenges of the job.  These tips come from veteran and new school librarians!

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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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