Previous by DateNext by Date Date Index
Previous by ThreadNext by Thread Thread Index
LM_NET Archive

What are your state's minimum requirements regarding library staffing?  If you 
don't know, check the state or district guidelines to see if you have anything 
there with which you can use as leverage to either gain an assistant to help you or 
to share with your principal about why there seems to be a problem with the 
"services" at your library....reminding her, that you are only one person.  (Also 
ask her, if ALL of the parents from one class came into her office on the same day 
at the same time, could she be able to give each of them individual counseling 
regarding their child's performance in school during the past few weeks?  --Of 
course not,.... it takes time to work with each individual with their specific 
needs....the same is true with your students and the library 
can't help EACH student individually AND check out materials AND keep a disciplined 
situation...without having a few hanging from the windowsills!)
If she still doesn't seem to understand that you are ONE person handling (how many 
students at the school?)--then I would give her your schedule and ask her or "Jon" 
to please stop by during those hours when you will have students in the library.  
They will be needed to assist you in checking books out of the library, assisting 
the students in locating the appropriate books for their reading abilities, AND 
locating materials that might not be on the shelves when you want / need them after 
you've searched the online catalog.  I would certainly make sure that they are 
invited on a regular basis to see the students in the library AND the chaos that 
occurs when you are alone trying to do it all....
One person cannot do all of this and yet principals seem to think that because we 
"sit alone all day in the library and apparently read all of the books," then we 
should have time to immediately clone ourselves and assist 20+ students who come 
into the library to be taught library skills (and everything else.)
The only other option you have is to create a list of EVERYTHING that you do---the 
number of students who are in your area / class during their library time each 
week---the amount of time it takes to check out materials, shelve materials, and do 
other clerical things.  Then add all of the time together---you're probably working 
MORE than a 40 hour week by yourself.
Above all, document, document, document all of the activities that occur each day 
(as well as the meetings that you have, the comments that were made by the 
administrators, and the requests that you make that are denied.)  Keep a count of 
the number of students / teachers who come into the library.  Keep your circulation 
records--how many books you check out daily, weekly, monthly AND be sure to keep 
this information current.  Make note of the number of lessons you teach WITHOUT a 
planning period (unlike what your teachers have)...and remind your principal that 
you (and probably the nurse or the counselor) are the ONLY person on your campus 
who must deal with EVERY student and teacher throughout the week WITHOUT an 
assistant!!  Who else would have to deal with EVERY student and teacher without 
someone else in their area to help them---even the principal has office 
staff....the cafeteria has several workers there....the janitor probably has a few 
others to assist him / her....the bus driver has a few individuals to help him / 
her and they certainly don't have to deal with EVERYONE during the week.  No one 
else works with as many people throughout the week without additional staff....only 
librarians are expected to handle a "classroom situation" that includes 
"administrative responsibilities" with the requirements of a "public relations 
director" and the duties of a "secretary / clerical assistant".....within a 40 hour 
week WITHOUT anyone else to help them.
When you get to this stage of insanity, you have two choices....document, document, 
document and then share that information with your administrators (or perhaps even 
the union, if you must) to gain help, understanding, and / or a forum to vent your 
frustrations OR leave.  This isn't a situation where YOU are the problem.  The next 
person will have the same problem and this will continue until either the principal 
leaves or someone else if finally hired to help the librarian.
I'm in the same situation at my current job.  The administration is pretty much the 
same..... the teachers and students are pretty much the same..... the parents are 
the same....but the librarian's position has been changed 3 times in the last 8 
years (and filled with three VERY different individuals---myself as the ONLY one 
who is certified in two states, with an MLIS degree and attempting to work on my 
PhD)....The librarian's position changes because SHE isn't doing enough / providing 
proper services / being helpful with everyone / walking on water every 
moment.....but as a result of the changes in this position....the problems remain 
the same according to the school personnel / teachers / students / parents / 
administrators....the comments made are "the librarian is the problem!!"
With ALL of the other areas remaining the same while the LIBRARIAN'S position 
changes so frequently....this certainly allows any intelligent person to figure out 
Shonda Brisco, MLIS
Trinity Valley MS / US Librarian
Trinity Valley School
Fort Worth, TX  76132
817-321-0100 ext. 410
"Those who have the highest expectations for the web in terms of student research, 
are those who work
with it, and students, the least."  -- LM_NET librarian


From: School Library Media & Network Communications on behalf of Johanna Halbeisen
Sent: Sat 11/6/2004 10:05 AM
Subject: [LM_NET] ELEM: vent and tear hair...HELP!

Dear Netters,
        There have been a series of events with my principal that
culminated yesterday in a threatening letter.  It started (from her
point of view) a couple of years ago when parents complained because
kids weren't taking out books.  I had delayed due to the amount of
work to get students into their current rooms on the computer and in
the rolladex of patron bar codes  and get shelf marker cards
(glorified name tags) made for 700 kids.  I was having parent
volunteers do that, as there was no way for me to do it and to teach
all the classes. (I'm in prep coverage rotation and I get no time at
the beginning or at the end of school for opening or closing jobs.
I'm supposed to start up on day one).  She started by saying I had to
come in before school started to do this work.  Union regs meant she
couldn't push that, tho.  We finally worked out a way.  At the time I
felt a bit bewildered at having something I'd been doing for seven
years questioned and made out to be a horrendous irresponsibility.
        This year, everyone was taking out books by the fourth week
of school (learning rules and routines for the first graders,
everyone else started the second week.)  Except for one first grade
class that had no parent volunteer and where I'd tried doing a
limited checkout, but stopped it in the middle of the attempt when it
became clear to me that there was no way I could go behind the desk
and leave the class to its impulses all over the library.  I worked
with the library volunteer coordinator to get someone in, sending
letters home asking for help (with no response).  Also several
kindergarten classes weren't taking out books yet because each had
several kids who couldn't even sit and listen to a story.
        Principal came and observed the class (we had parent
volunteers that day and books were being checked out.)  Then she
wrote a note asking about what she'd heard that the kids hadn't been
taking out books.  I met with her and told her what the situation
was.  She said that under no circumstances should I depend on
volunteers for book circulation, that I needed to figure out a way
for them to take out books.  Such as limiting their selection and
have them do some art or craft thing at the tables while I had them
come up one at a time to check out their books.  The impression I got
was that I needed to send books home with kids no matter what.
Didn't matter what books, I gathered.  Just send them home with
books.  To say nothing of what it would do to trying to establish a
routine.  Ok, I said, I understand.  Adapt in any way possible for a
class to take out books.
        (Several years ago I had a first grade class who could not
walk around the library and select books.  so I filled boxes with
books and put them on each table.  For the whole year kids picked
books from the box.  They even had to be assigned seats.  There is no
way I could have done this alone.  I had a terrific volunteer who
pretty much co-taught the class with me.  Don't know if principal was
aware of this.)
        So I thought that was done with and was trying to calm my
anger that none of what I do in that library seems to matter to the
principal unless a parent complains.  I was just about putting it
behind me when I got a letter in my box from her going through the
whole talk we'd had, angry that this had come up AGAIN.  She thought
she had made it clear two years ago that I couldn't let book
circulation be dependent on parent volunteers.  " You may not deny
students the ability to take home books because a volunteer is not
available." (I'm not allowed to say that I can't teach without parent
volunteers, although I say all the time that they make the program I
have in the library possible.)
        She wrote "If you need further support in designing lessons
that enable you to manage both students and check out procedures, I
expect you to ask for help.  Both Jon (Assist Prin) and I are
available for support. .....In the future , if students are not
allowed to borrow books during a regularly scheduled library time, I
may be forced to take disciplinary action."
        Perspective please?  comments?  Advice on response?   She has
gone on these rampages before.  Two years ago she was on my case all
year, not just the circ thing at the beginning.  I am hoping
desparately that this will not be another year like that, but my
hopes are not high.
        Thanks for listening!

All LM_NET postings are protected by copyright law.
To change your LM_NET status, e-mail to:
In the message write EITHER: 1) SIGNOFF LM_NET  2) SET LM_NET NOMAIL
3) SET LM_NET MAIL  4) SET LM_NET DIGEST  * Allow for confirmation.
LM_NET Help & Information:
EL-Announce with LM_NET Select:
LM_NET Supporters:

All LM_NET postings are protected by copyright law.
To change your LM_NET status, e-mail to:
In the message write EITHER: 1) SIGNOFF LM_NET  2) SET LM_NET NOMAIL
3) SET LM_NET MAIL  4) SET LM_NET DIGEST  * Allow for confirmation.
LM_NET Help & Information:
EL-Announce with LM_NET Select:
LM_NET Supporters:

LM_NET Mailing List Home