This photo, “First place, second place, third place” is copyright (c) 2009 Joe McCarthy/ gumption and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

One reason I love my high school ‘ library job is that I don’t have to tell people what to do all day. ‘ Sure, I’m always checking passes, giving instructions and directions, or pointing the way to obtain the desired outcome. ‘ But, when a teen walks through the doors of our school library the decision about what to do next is totally up to them. ‘ It is so unlike walking into a classroom where the next 90 minutes are highly structured and choices are circumscribed. ‘ The ability to provide an intellectually stimulating environment where teens get to make the choice of what to do next is empowering for our young people and deserves to be protected.

The high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power. ‘ Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts. ‘ When they walk through that library door, decisions await. ‘ Where to sit, computer or table? ‘ Do they need to work, or socialize a bit? ‘ Should they listen to music while they work independently, or work with a group of classmates? Do they want to work with a group of our coders on the 3D printer or lounge in a comfy chair and read a magazine? ‘ Perhaps they stayed up late studying last night and just need to take a nap. The library is one of the few places on the high school campus where students can be self-directed. Read More →

Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless.’  Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter.’  Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily.’  It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need.’  Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile.’  In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though.’  In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing.’  (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

RULE ONE.’  Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind.’  Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals.’  I put my new year’s goal on a list every year.’  When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list.’  There is one goal that is on the list year after year.’  Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal.’  By the way,’  the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.

I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established.’  And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!

RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally.’  Validate yourself as a professional.’  You care about your library and the students you serve.’  Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully.’  There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that’  resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them.’ ‘  Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library.’ ‘  Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome.’  Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.

RULE THREE.’  Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed.’  For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily.’  For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage.’  You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.

RULE FOUR. Developing.’  Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned.’  Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish.’  Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it.’  Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals.’  Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year.’  I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point.’  As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group.’  I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals.’  I can embrace these goals as developing.

KIND goals.’  Those are my kind of goals.’  Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens.’  It is the same kind of library I like to foster.’  The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is’ to start with the way we treat ourselves.’  If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can’  and will achieve.’  Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.