Friday, April 6, 2012

The bottom lines


As Doug Johnson said in his blog "It is ethically irresponsible not to have a budget." If you work at a public school, it might even be illegal. I've always felt that having a budget gives you a tool to show not only your value, but also the value of the services you're providing. Also, we shouldn't be afraid of showing this, if we are providing excellent services, then our budget will show this. If not, then maybe we shouldn't be in that job (or we should reevaluate what we're doing). It also gives us an idea of what we need, where we can cut back or improve (save money!). Then in Wools The School Library Media Manager, we talk about planning and proposals. It's like any other management job, planning beforehand can and will save you in sticky situations in the long run. Also, I'm a big fan of documentation. Document your planning, your procedures, your successes, your failures. Document it not because you need to prove your worth, but because as a manger and leader, you need to keep these records for yourself, your program, and your successors. And my favorite piece of advise about budgeting comes from Dave Ramsey, a budget is not a goal. Budget for what you need, have a list of things you can buy when you have extra.


There are many different areas of personnel management that teacher librarians need to think about. First, they must manage their own time, teaching, managing the library (equipment and personnel), budgeting, planning, collaborating, etc. Speak to your administrator and define you role, where you belong, how much they expect you to teach, what your role is within the school, budget, personnel, everything about your job and responsibilities. Get it in writing, be on the same page. Then plan your job (as much as you possibly can) around this, evaluate yourself, and be evaluated by your administrator. Set goals and meet them. And, let's be honest, this is how any job is/should be.
Second, managing the library staff (if you're lucky enough to have some), what are their responsibilities, what should they be doing and when, how much decision making freedom do they have, etc. Have defined job descriptions and talk about what is expected. Everything that you do with your administrator, you should be doing with your assistant(s)
Third, parent volunteers. This is especially important in elementary schools, where parents tend to be more involved. It's a good way to meet parents, and have them feel more connected to the library. Don't let parents think they own the space, and if they aren't helping, then they shouldn't be there, but also invite them in and let them do the work that neither you nor your assistant have time for (shelving, cleaning, moving things, etc.), do not give them jobs that your assistant or you should be doing, or you risk making yourself obsolete.

Professional Associations

As Blanche Wools says in her chapter Leadership and Your Professional School Library Association, "What 'the association' can do is limited only by the ability of members to make things happen." Oh goodie, something else the librarian has to do, but only if you want to keep ahead. It's a question of participation and priorities, which isn't to say that if you don't want to participate or become a leader, then you're an inadequate librarian. No matter what you do, you're choosing one thing over another, so choose the place where you feel comfortable. Also, we keep talking about these things as though we need to do everything, for everyone, everywhere, the minute we walk in the door. We don't, nor are we expected to (and if we are, we don't want to work there anyway, seriously). What we are expected to do (and what we should expect from ourselves), is to make a plan, continue to learn and grow, and improve ourselves. Start from the bottom, join a committee, help out with something, make friends, network, and then, when you're good and ready, do more.

1 comment:

  1. I love what you say about documenting for the program and for your successors. Even though I wasn't a full-fledged librarian at my old job, I submitted yearly reports and kept track of budgets and services. Then, when I left, I had all of that information to pass on to the next person.


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