The first thing you need to do is make friends with your school librarian. Librarians have their fingers on the pulse of the building. They know the curriculum, they generally know the procedures, and they know who in the building can (and will) help. AND, they can pull material together for you if you just give them a “heads up."
So grab a cup of coffee or tea, stroll down the hall to the library and check it out. My tips to first-year teachers meeting with librarians for the first time:
- Bring a notebook with a calendar and maybe a few curricular or unit ideas.
- Introduce yourself and chat up the librarian.
- Ask if the library got any new books over the summer.
- Ask for suggestions for read alouds.
- Ask if there are class sets of books/materials hidden in closets or in the library.
- Ask if there are bits of hardware that can be checked out of the library.
- Ask if materials can be borrowed (interlibrary loaned) from other libraries.
- Ask when is the best time to collaborate.
- Jot down notes because ideas are going to be flying.
Discuss your ideas and ask what is possible. Once you get going, you will find your librarian is the gatekeeper to a treasure trove of materials and ideas. All you have to do is ask and maybe bring a cookie or piece of chocolate.
Dona Helmer is the librarian at College Gate Elementary in Anchorage, AK. She has been everything from a university professor to district media coordinator. Although she has written other grants, she has had over 100 DonorsChoose.org. projects funded since 2011.