Monday, June 8, 2015

Innovative Programming In Your School Library

I just finished my fourth year at Hume-Fogg and my twelfth year as a librarian.  If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to know your audience!  This year I hosted two very successful events that I hope to build off of next year.

Since almost all Hume-Fogg students go off to college, I’ve been really looking at the sort of programming that colleges do.  Increasingly, college libraries are really becoming one stop shops – not just great resources, but programming.  I noticed that many of these college libraries actually had a dog that could be checked out, because students were stressed and away from home.  Studies prove that petting an animal is great for stress. 

I knew that Hume-Fogg students were very stressed, typically around exams.  Every year, I’ve seen meltdowns occur, and I thought that having a fluffy friend that students could interact with might help. I found out the rules for having animals.  I decided to plan for a visit right before exams.  I got the okay from my administrators and made contact with an organization.  

Not surprisingly, the dogs were a big hit!  We hosted 4 dogs during lunch one period in the hallway right outside the library. Even my adminstrators came to visit the dogs and to take pictures.  Teachers, also feeling stressed, mentioned that they really enjoyed seeing the dogs.  Of course, my students were delighted and many thanked me for helping them with the high stress of exam time.

Another program I hosted this year was a panel discussion.  Hume-Fogg students are curious about the world and each other.  However, like anyone, they have questions, and who better to offer their perspective than other students?  The first panel I hosted was Undocumented at Hume-Fogg.  I had three undocumented students talk about their experiences.  About thirty students attended and they found out a lot about the challenges that undocumented students face, especially when applying to college. I hosted a second panel called Transgender at Hume-Fogg.  At this panel, I had two transgender students discuss what it was like to be transgender.  They cleared up a lot of common misconceptions about being transgender.  About 50 students attended. 

Before hosting an event, you always want to check with your administration and get their approval.  It is always important to keep the needs of the larger community in mind.  In my situation, I always host during lunch where teachers’ classes won’t be interrupted, and all of my events are voluntary.

David Lankes says that “the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” (see  I hope you will consider facilitating knowledge creation in your community – perhaps even using students to do so!  What if you asked a student who knew how to solve a rubiks cube to show others?  How about a kid who knew how to do magic tricks?  Empower them, and by empowering them, you are empowering others!

MNPS Teacher-Librarian

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