Consider the multitude of ways that you work to center students everyday.

Collection development: Adding materials to the collection that provide windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors for students to see themselves and learn about the lives of others.

Displays: Prompting students to be active participants in their own discovery process.

Book clubs: Building a collaborative, supportive culture in which to generate ideas and share reflections.

A welcoming environment that fosters belonging: Allowing students to choose when and where to spend unstructured time, thereby encouraging an understanding of their own learning styles and exercising more control over how they utilize time.

Not to mention the media literacy lessons you build that empower students to think critically, those moments spent putting aside the tasks of the day to have important conversations with students, and the reorganization and reprioritization that happens in order to make space for student art and other creations which spark conversation about vision and imagination.

It’s all amazing. YOU are amazing. And as a profession, WE are amazing.

One of the means by which I am able to center students is through participation in my school’s Resources Team which includes the Educational Resource Center, Library Learning Commons, Quant Center, Technology Department, and Writing Center. Twice a month, we meet with the goal of putting students at the center. We keep statistics individually in order to come together collectively, not to compare data but rather to ask questions. Which individual students are we seeing often? Who is not visiting us, and why? Are there grade levels that do not visit as often, and what can we do to let students know that we are here to support and help? What types of projects are we collaborating on with faculty, and what do these projects tell us about our students and their interests, successes, and gaps? What programs, services, and resources might we provide to extend the curriculum and meet the information needs of our students? I value our Resources Team as a holistic approach to student-centered learning, and it is these conversations that allow me to pull back here, push a little forward there, and ultimately work in tandem with colleagues toward ensuring that students are engaging actively with their own education and with our community.

What are some ways that you intentionally center students, and how does this inform your planning and decision-making?

Building Advocacy as Habit

I have come to the realization that taking time for myself is hard work. 

For example, building meditation into my daily life has been a process. How much time will I spend meditating? What app/guidance, if any, will I use? What time of day will be most beneficial? How will I actually remember to meditate? Where is a good location for my practice? 

After much experimentation, I finally found my sweet spot. My meditation lasts 15 minutes around noon in a conference room on campus using the Ten Percent Happier app (loved their Ted Lasso challenge!). Oh, and it’s a must that I not only block out time but also reserve the room on google calendar. That makes it official. At this point, if I miss a day of meditation, I feel it. So I do the work to make it happen.

That same sense of imbalance happens for me when I don’t take time for the library profession. I’m not talking about my job. I’m talking about the profession as a whole. The profession that lights up imaginations, provides access to resources, and not only includes but amplifies voices. This work, because it is work, also requires me to ask a series of ongoing questions. What does advocacy mean? Is it a grand gesture or a small step? Will it require me to speak, to write, to listen, and/or to unite?

Some action steps that have helped me build my advocacy habit for the profession:

  • Connect: A monthly zoom meeting with a fellow solo librarian at another school library. This point of contact fuels both of us in profound ways.
  • Share: Rotate weekly features in our school’s daily announcements. This may be about a resource offered by our school or an event from a public library. Anything to get the word out about what libraries have to offer.
  • Intake: A book review, an article, a podcast, even an emotional vent on a social media post. Things that circle me back to both the realities and idealities of the profession.
  • Rise: Accepting the leadership position. Proposing the conference session. Writing the blog post.

What are some ways that you advocate, either for yourself and/or for the profession?