A network for new and aspiring library professionals

Siobhan’s First Professional Post – School Librarian

s2I’ve just started my First Professional Post (FPP) as a school librarian (I’m not going to name my employer on here).  I hadn’t considered school librarianship as a career path, but the job came up in Nottingham at the right time and I got it!  I didn’t expect for my first job after the MA to be my FPP; I wanted to return to academic libraries so I was looking at library assistant roles.  It is gratifying to be classed as a ‘librarian’ – I like the officialness of the job title! Having said that, I don’t think the school I’m at knows the value of having a librarian (more on that later).

I think many school librarians work alone, and I am no exception.  My job is a maternity cover, and once the handover period is over I will be running the library by myself (eek!), with a few student librarians to do some shelving.  So, I’ll have responsibility for collection management, marketing, budgeting, cataloguing, acquisitions, recruitment (of Student Librarians and Reading Leaders), timetabling of library lessons and organising author visits (I’m sure there’s a couple of things missing from that list but can’t think right now).  Which sounds amazing, and I’m really excited about it all. But there is a downside to this role: lack of support and engagement from the school.

The current “librarian” (I feel a bit like Mrs de Winter, because I am also the current librarian but I don’t want to say her real name or call her the pregnant librarian so I’m sticking with calling her that) is not actually a qualified librarian, she does a good job but what she does is limited.  She has a lack of professional awareness, and hasn’t pushed the library into subjects other than English.  It’s not just her fault, when she has tried to introduce library initiatives the staff haven’t been receptive so she’s given up.

What I plan to do to improve the situation is:

  • Introduce research skills classes for 6th form (with a view to possibly extending this to GCSE pupils)
  • Revamp the non-fiction collection (because English literature is only one subject from the curriculum!)
  • Make interesting and interactive displays
  • Introduce a library app (I’m part of the IT Team so in theory they should support this but I’m not going to hold my breath)
  • Make contact with all departments and ask them for their input into the library
  • Encourage the pupils to engage with the library and request books
  • Encourage library use during lunch hours and after school (i.e. actually borrowing books instead of just using the PCs).
  • Start loaning ebooks using Overdrive (I’ve not got my budget yet, but I think this would swallow most if not all of it, so I’m going to pitch the idea to one of the Vice Principals based on the idea that the school is a ‘leading edge technology’ school so it should embrace new(ish) technology).
  • Request book donations from staff, pupils and parents.
  • Rearrange some of the shelving and seating to hopefully attract some interest.
  • Get the Media Studies pupils to make book trailers for their coursework to be shown in the library.

The good news is that I think most of these things are achievable because I feel positively about it and I can probably ‘guilt’ the school into supporting some of the more ‘e’ initiatives.  The current librarian is not precious about “her job” so once she has gone on maternity leave I’m going to get on with most of those things.  I have suggested most of them to her and she’s been encouraging but a little bit pessimistic about the potential successes.  She is also supportive about asking for money to launch new ideas that need extra finance.  I’m willing to give all the ideas a good go, and if they fail then at least I gave them a try, but I think a few could really take off.

I’m feeling really positive about my FPP, partly because I think it’s going to look great on my CV.  I feel lucky that I’ve got a blank canvas; I’m not following a star librarian and trying to fill big shoes so anything I do should, and hopefully will, be appreciated by the school.

Having said that, I’m not sure of where I’ll try to go next.  Academic librarians may feel undervalued, but I think school librarians get a worse deal (I’ve only just about picked myself up off the floor since seeing the £10k school librarian job advertised in Cambridge. £10,000!!! IN CAMBRIDGE!!! Not in 1950s Cambridge, Cambridge in 2012!!! Where you have to pay rent and buy food and clothe yourself and get to work and buy beer occasionally!  £10,000?!  Horrendous).  And in this role, if the current librarian doesn’t come back then I could stay but there is absolutely no room for progression.  So, we’ll see.. but for now I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and improving the library!

Thanks to Lorna and Sarah for giving me advice and resources before I started work, the network of school librarians is great!

Sorry this post is really wordy!


5 comments on “Siobhan’s First Professional Post – School Librarian

  1. libraryem
    July 27, 2012

    Well done for getting your first professional post after your MA, what you’re doing sounds really exciting – hopefully the school will learn to appreciate the library a bit more! I’m about to start my MA next year so it’s always interesting to read about people’s experiences once they’ve finished. Good luck with everything 🙂

    • manchesternlpn
      July 29, 2012

      Thank you 🙂 where are you going to be doing your MA?

  2. Pingback: Member Interview – Sophie Rollason, Faculty Assistant Librarian | ManchesterNLPN

  3. Gordon
    December 26, 2012

    Hi Siobhan

    I think your post is very accurate indeed. This is a very informative piece for those who maybe thinking about school librarianship. Nice one.


  4. Pingback: We are 5 :) | NLPN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on July 23, 2012 by in Professional experience and tagged , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,195 other followers

Twitter Updates

%d bloggers like this: