I undertook my 10 day library placement at my local town library. I must admit that I was extremely disappointed when I realised that I would not be able to undertake the placement within a school library as this is the place that I ultimately want to work. I believed that the crossover and value would be limited. How wrong I was!
The placement was a massive learning curve with I’m pleased to admit, loads of overlap. Many programs, systems and structures within the town library have the ability to be adapted to meet the needs of both staff and students within a school environment. A specific example of this is shelving categorisation of the non-fiction titles into genres for easy access by members.
Working with community members of all ages was a highlight of the placement from toddlers through to the elderly. I especially loved Toddler Time and Craft activities along with Preschool visits. The opportunity to experience such programs planted a seed in the possibility of working within a primary school as something that I would thoroughly enjoy, which after 17 years teaching High School students came as a surprise to me.
During the placement I quickly realised that catering for all members of the community takes a great deal of thought, programming and management from the Librarian. Access to resources and information was the main goal of the library, however emphasis was placed on customer service and developing a favourable experience for all patrons. This area of serving the client was also highlighted several times during my earlier attendance at the Canberra Study Visit. This simple concept of always placing the consumer first, meeting their needs in a timely manner and with a smile stresses the importance of not becoming irritated by the constant disruptions of a librarians day. Instead these disruptions should be approached with the glass half full attitude. To be able to provide a positive experience for both students and teachers in the long run will (I would hope) ensure an increase in library use and subject teacher-teacher librarian collaboration.
I was given the opportunity to weed a section of the General Fiction. Weeding within the library is a continuous process that follows the State Library Standards. The standards indicate that no greater than 25% of the collection is published outside of 10 years. By initially checking the publish date the weeding process is made more efficient. In the last year spine labels include the date published and are in bold writing to reduce the time spent checking publishing dates. The experience of weeding the collection will have a direct benefit to my work in the library of my current school. The weeding gave me practice at the task and also ideas that can be adapted and included in our school collection development policy.
One of the major ‘light bulb’ moments early in the placement was witnessing first hand ‘evidence based practice’. Though I theoretically understand the concept through my Masters studies and fully understand how beneficial such stats can be I always placed collecting usable data on programs etc. in the ‘too hard basket’. The simple recording of data on a template by the library staff and collation of this data proved this is not the case. This gave me firm ideas of what I can easily achieve in my own school library to inform the Principal and administrators of what is required for a productive library to operate.
One of the biggest benefits in undertaking the placement is the connection I have made with the library staff, especially the Library Manager. Her expertise and experience are such a valuable resource that I know feel comfortable in accessing in the future. We have planned to initiate a networking group for all the librarians within Gunnedah for later in the year.
In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the town library, and left feeling that I have so much more to learn. I look forward to adapting different elements and programs that I was fortunate to experience to meet the needs of the staff and students within my own school library.