Collaboration is the heart of the librarian’s job, but to make that work, we have to develop genuine relationships with our stakeholders. Engaging with teachers, students, and parents really begins outside the walls of the library. If we wait for people to come to us, we are missing out on many opportunities.
To engage teachers, I think the first thing we need to do is to start with authentic connection. While we certainly want to collaborate and plan together, this will happen more organically and effectively if we can kind of remind them that we are there – especially as a new librarian. I think this starts just by proactively making an effort to be visible. Simple things like walking the halls and introducing yourself informally and eating lunch in the lounge can go a long way to building a relationship – and these first steps are really important in letting people know that you are real and valuable resource.
Similarly, I think one way of engaging students starts with leaving the walls of the library. If we invite ourselves into the classrooms where the kids already are- perhaps to do a read aloud or to bring in a new, fun app, then we can use that opportunity to kind of introduce ourselves, introduce the library programs, and to really listen to what are students are responding to and what they are interested in.
To engage parents, one strategy is to use the power of social media. This has worked well for me in my classroom. Depending on the year, some parents are more involved with different platforms, but using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Seesaw to share what we’ve got going on has created many opportunities for two way communication with parents. I think this would work equally well in the library.
If we just work with the people who are already coming in on their own, we’re really just preaching to the choir. To get engage all of our stakeholders, we have to be willing to reach out.