Monday, October 6, 2014

So, you want to get a library sub?


Well, first of all, I would ask a former teacher and/or sub who frequently works in your building.  Sit down and have a little meeting while she (or he!) has a planning period on a day when she (or he!) is already subbing in your building. Done.

What’s that you say? It’s not that simple?  You don’t know any subs who fit that description? Or maybe it’s 12:30 am on Sunday night and your child just broke out in chicken pox and now you’re going to have to use a sick day and there’s no time to have that neat little meeting?

Well, in that case, here are some tips for preparing for a library sub!

First of all (or is this second of all? who cares?) make sure that you email the appropriate person at the sub office and include off the information that you’re supposed to include. Don’t email both of those nice people.  Just pick one.  They’re both great!  Or if you’re reading this in the distant future and librarians are now capable of requesting their own subs, make sure you request a sub! Don’t wait until 5:00 am. Put in that request as soon as you know you’re going to be out of your building. 

If you are able to plan for your absence before 12:30 am on Sunday night, go ahead and make a sub folder filled with important information like usernames, passwords, logins, check out rules, your daily schedule, helpful phone numbers, etc. Give the sub your own phone number, too! A quick call or text could save you a lot of trouble when you return to school! Or maybe you’re uncomfortable handing out your phone number to strangers.  If so, never ever google your address.  You will totally freak out.  And definitely don’t create a social media account of any sort.  But I digress!  Aren’t we supposed to be talking about library subs and not your fear of identify theft?

If you’re in the related arts rotation (and I’m guessing you are, or else why would you get a sub? Just so that the students can check out? What a fabulous librarian you must be!), make sure to leave a detailed lesson plan for each class that your sub will teach.  It’s a good idea to go ahead and lay out books, videos, and other materials that the sub will need.  Don’t count on the fact that someone can riffle through your desk and storage area and come up with an engaging, fun, higher-order-thinking-skills library lesson.  They probably can’t.  If you know someone who CAN, please send me their name and sub number ASAP.

You’ll also want to leave instructions for how to shelve books. Not everyone has used the DDC before! And not everyone alphabetizes spine labels to the first three letters of an author’s last name every day, so…just keep in mind that common sense isn’t necessarily common. If you have special collections that don’t follow general shelving rules, be sure to make note of those! My graphic novels keep ending up in the regular non-fiction section and then the kids can’t find them and then it’s a whole thing.  You don’t want that to happen to you.

If you’ve taught your students how to use the OPAC (and you really should! It’s pretty great!), be sure to clue the sub in on that.  The little darlings are bound to have questions and need help with searching the catalog, and you’ll want your sub to feel empowered to help them!

Here’s a final pearl of wisdom on lesson plans for subs: Unless you’re certain that your sub is at least moderately tech-savvy, leave some lower-tech lesson plans and materials. (GASP!)  I know we’re all technological mavens and #futureready, but some subs aren’t.  Really set the sub (and the kids!) up for success by leaving plans that are relevant and purposeful, but fun and simple too! You sub might be the most magnificent sub of all time, but if she (or he!) isn’t “a computer person,” check out and OPAC will be enough for one day.

In summation:


Follow the procedures for requesting a sub.

Have a face to face meeting with your sub if possible.


Make a sub folder.

Explain your check out procedures and rules.

Leave instructions on how to shelve the books.

Explain how to use the OPAC (if necessary)

Think “classic” versus “cutting-edge” when it comes to technology in sub plans.


Enjoy your day away from your library knowing that you are prepared for a sub! 

Guest Blogger-
Keeli Price
MNPS Teacher-Librarian

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