So I got a job– two jobs, actually, all of a sudden. After 5 months of applying for jobs and 5 interviews, I selected one of two prospects and I am now the head Librarian at a small private boarding school in Alabama. The library is in high use as a study hall for day and boarding students, but its collection (roughly 20,000 books/non-books) and databases are under-utilized for various reasons. Although the previous librarian made some positive steps toward updating the library for the 21st century, there’s still a ways to go to make the library a user-friendly, modern resource for its patrons.
Because of the nature of the school, the library isn’t just a _____ library. It’s not just a high school library. As elite college prep school students, the patrons here need more than a standard HS library and librarian would be able to offer. They need the kind of information literacy taught in academic libraries. They need databases (and need to know how to use them). They need high integration of technology and traditional materials. They need a reference desk or highly accessible reference librarian, not just a glorified circulation assistant. Since many of the students board (and many of the faculty live on campus), they need the library to be a public library with easily accessible everyday reading materials. Although the students are constantly challenged to read “good” books in class, they need to be able to access bestseller YA materials to develop lifelong habits of reading “for fun.” Moreover, the library isn’t just a young adult library: faculty place orders for classroom/pedagogical and training materials.
I envision a multi-tiered and multi-pronged system for bringing technology, reference, YA/”fun” materials, research/pedagogical materials, and library/information/literacy skills into the library and the school’s classrooms. Some of these ideas will entail traditional marketing and programming native to the YA part of a public library. Others will mimic the information literacy taught in college settings and the reference strategies employed there. As I work to improve the library’s service to its students, staff and faculty, I will post my progress here.