Friday, July 15, 2016

Saying Goodbye

Dear Incoming Librarian,

I am handing the reigns of this place over to you. As my library hero librariantiff says:

"I’m going to go ahead and apologize now — there will be things in this library that make you wonder about me. You’ll wonder WHAT I was thinking, why did I decide to do this that way, why didn’t I make such and such a bigger priority" (para. 2).

And as librariantiff says:

"Just know that everything I’ve done here, every choice I made, was driven by a desire to make this space the best possible environment for my students and teachers...I’ve always wanted it to be about the kids" (para. 2).

That's the essence of everything I did during my tenure at Etown: it was all about the kids. My driving force was creating a 21st century space that appealed to both middle and high school students, that was functional, and that worked in the constraints of one person serving two schools without assistance.

So be gentle with me as you look around the space (and especially as you work through the office, **shudder**). This place was my home for three years. It has so many lessons with middle school students, pizza parties with my newspaper kids, hanging out with my colleagues. I didn't know ANYTHING about being a librarian when I started out here in 2012. It was my first library position, and I truly had no idea what I was doing when I started. Over the years I figured out how to make it work, but my "system" will probably seem odd to a newcomer. That's ok,  you'll have to adjust it and make it work for you. 

Please humor me as I leave you with some tips for getting started:

1) Get to know the kids as fast as you can. Yes, the fact that the library is a hallway, and 200 kids will walk through it 5 times a day, is overwhelming and frustrating. You can't fix it, but you CAN use it as a time to high-five students as they walk by. Give a hug to a kid who looks like they are having a bad day. Give the "look" to the one who wears his hat EVERY DAY, no matter what you say to him. 

2) Connect to your co-workers. Fast. They are your life-line and your support. There are some nearby who will literally carry you across the finish line on those really tough days. You'll have to figure out for yourself who you can rely on. There are a few "mean girls" (and boys). Kill 'em with kindness. Let them only see you smiling, and don't get caught up in the negativity. There is SO MUCH GOOD in that place, focus on it. 

3) Make friends with the custodial staff and the tech people. They are amazing resources, and will go out of their way to make your life better. Chocolate goes a long way in making friends...

4) Set some boundaries. This is really hard for me, as I throw my heart and soul into my work. Choose a few committees to serve on that you are passionate about, and say no to the rest. Prioritize a few things a day, and work hard to accomplish them. Create your schedule, your rules and procedures, and stick to them. It is SO HARD to say no when that co-worker looks at you with those big sad eyes, but trust have to do it. If you don't, you are shortchanging other colleagues who followed the procedures and hurting relationships.

Lastly, give yourself time to adjust to a new situation. I learned the hard way that people don't like change. Don't go in with both guns blazing and expect people to be happy about it. Tread gently, trust the system, make changes slowly. I say this as much to myself as to you, as I am also going into a new situation. 

I truly wish you the very best as you start your new position in this library. It is a wonderful, magical place. I hope you love it as much as I did.


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