#86 Health & Safety

Health & Safety

A vital topic, in many ways.

It is important to keep yourself and your charges safe, whether they be staff, pupils or guests.

Be aware of the law (Health & Safety Summary) and of the school policy on health and safety. What’s the school’s policy on maximum numbers in the charge of any one individual member of staff? Has the school undertaken a lone worker risk assessment for the librarian?

Health & Safety law can also be useful if someone in your school (or an architect during a new build) is trying to cut corners. Do all you can to avoid this, particularly if you can point to the likelihood of expensive future restructuring to rectify any work or space that contravenes Health & Safety legislation.

#85 Line Manager

Line Manager

Who should line manage a school librarian?

Well, probably not anyone from the administrative side of things, as they have little to do with curricular issues, information science or literacy. That includes ‘Business Managers’ of any description.

Head of English? I don’t think so. The librarian is there to support the whole school curriculum, not just the English Department.

The simple answer is that it should be a depute head or headteacher, who should have the skills and overview of school issues to be able to advise and guide you appropriately. In all my posts, I had a senior manager as my line manager, and would definitely not have settled for less.

#84 Discipline

Discipline

An earlier post referred to a discipline policy, and how this should fit in with school policy.

Writing a discipline policy is fairly easy, particularly if you base it on the whole school policy. Keeping order in a busy school library is not so easy, and requires a great amount of patience, perseverance and a certain amount of psychology.

First, what not to do.
Lose your temper. This instantly marks you down as the loser in any conflict. Respect goes out the window on both sides.
Get personal. Deal with the behaviour, not the pupil. Don’t slag them off or humiliate them, this will often backfire on you.
Get involved with a fellow professional’s pupils. Deal with it personally, after the class.

I’ve seen teaching staff shouting loudly at pupils within an inch or two of their face. Where do you go after that?

Things to do.
Keep calm. Even if you’re irritated internally, keep a calm exterior and a level tone of voice and manner.
Concentrate on the behaviour, repeatedly pointing out that it is unacceptable, if necessary.
Isolate the poor behaviour. If a pupil refuses to leave, clear everyone else out. The miscreant will usually leave of their own accord before the room is cleared.
Follow through. If an incident is unresolved, ensure you follow it through to the bitter end. Involve guidance teachers, teachers, managers and the headteacher if necessary. This is not usually necessary, but take it as far as it needs to go.

This is a very difficult topic, and one that doesn’t get any easier. However, if you are observant, attend relevant training and learn from your fellow professionals (particularly good teachers) your working life can be relatively calm and satisfying.

The tips here are short, but fairly sweet.

#83 Video Tutorials

Video Tutorials

Let’s be honest, pupils (or staff for that matter) don’t like big, hefty manuals or instruction sheets. They like to see lots of pictures and step by step instructions.

Or even better, a visual video guide. These are incredibly easy to create with free software such as Cam Studio. The software comes with its own detailed manual. Get access to a headphone/microphone headset, and you’re off.

For examples of library catalogue guides created with this software, see the Perth College website; click on the list items under short tutorials.

#82 Teacher Tube

TeacherTube

Virtually everyone has heard of YouTube, (for better or worse), but less people appear to have heard of TeacherTube. As the name suggests, it’s YouTube for education professionals. It contains a vast amount of resources: instructional videos, presentations, lesson plans and much more.

It also contains a lot of high quality materials on the subjects of information and electronic literacy. Worth a look.

#81 Virtual Library

Virtual Library

Your library catalogue is, in essence, a virtual library as anyone with access to a browser can see the titles you hold and what’s available in your space.

You can also make your actual library space available if you so choose. A nifty (and free) little tool like Mapwing enables you to upload pictures of your area with captions, which are then turned inta a virtual tour of your library. Neat, attractive and useful.

#80 Innovation

Innovation

Innovation is a state of mind. Many librarians are innovative, and many are not. So what does ‘innovative’ mean?

For me, an innovative professional is one who is constantly looking at the services they provide, with a view to improving them. This might be with the use of new technologies, new ways of looking at services, the introduction of entirely new services, or occasionally re-introducing older methods of service delivery.

What would I class as innovation in the library sphere? Anything that encourages pupil participation: blogs for book reviews, blogs for library service updates that encourage comment, surveys, conversation, communication of any sort. Anything that broadens the librarian’s mind: creation of curricular link collections, communication with teaching staff, cpd research, networking activity, thinking time. There are technologies that could be used creatively, almost too many to list: blogs, wikis, SMS (text your reminders), websites, library 2.0 technology, web 2.0 tools, photos, video, audio, podcasting.
Sometimes, simple little tricks can encourage pupils to read (or anything else you want them to do). I used to take the opening lines from a book and enlarge them greatly to about A2 size. I would stick this on the wall without label or comment. It was amazing how many pupils would ask what it was and demand to see the book.

Innovation is all about looking for the angle that will improve the service, never about the use of gimmicks or technology for its own sake.

And it can make a difference!