Jumpstart A New Year in Your Library

Jumpstart a New Year in Your Library // It's a new school year, which means it's a great time to amp up your library program and make it more awesome.

It’s a new school year!  Some of you may already be back, and some of you may be counting down the last days of summer.  Either way, a new year is a fresh start, a chance to change things up and make your library program better.  Here’s some things to think about as you get back into the groove:

Jumpstart A New Year in Your Library

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Try something new

The beginning of the year is one of the best times to try something new.  Rearrange your furniture. Paint a wall, or a pole, or your circulation desk.  Create some new signage (these frames from IKEA are gorgeous and cheap and these ones are only $1!). Plan a new program.   Whatever you were dreaming about doing last year but didn’t try because you didn’t want to rock the boat, try that now.

Stock up your makerspace and library

One of my favorite things about a new year is planning out my orders.  Books, fresh office supplies, new tools to try out in our makerspace. When you get those boxes, it’s like Christmas in August. Start planning your book order (mine focused on increasing the diversity of our fiction collection, adding more LGBTQ+ resources and starting to build our graphic novel collection).  Get some new items for your makerspace.

— I just recently created an Amazon store with my recommendations, so check it out.

Caveat: Now I know that not all of us have budgets, or if we do, they can be pretty pitiful.  I get it, I’ve been there. If that’s you, look for other resources. Write a draft for that grant. Create a DonorsChoose project for something you’ve been wanting to try out.  If your local education foundation has a teaching supply store, see if you can volunteer in exchange for a free shopping trip.

Read something that inspires you

There’s nothing quite like reading a book to inspire you to try something different at your school.  And there’s so many amazing PD titles out there that there’s almost certainly one for you. Whether it’s a book on literacy, advocacy, creativity, makerspaces, library spaces, there’s sure to be something out there.  While not exactly a PD title, right now I’m reading The Design of Childhood, which looks at the intersections of design, architecture and child development – it’s fascinating!

— I have some book recommendations for makerspaces and learning spaces in my Amazon store.

Connect with your faculty

At this time of year, all your teachers and staff are frantically trying to get ready for students.  But that doesn’t mean you should leave them alone. Make it a point to meet people. Develop connections.  Plan collaborations. Get lunch together (since this is one of the few times you can actually leave campus to eat).  The relationships you build now will sustain your program throughout the year.

Connect with Your Students

If your students are already on campus, spend some time getting to know them.  If not, send out some welcome back messages via e-mail or whatever communication program your school uses.  When you plan your library orientation, look for ways that you can build rapport and community rather than just listing off library rules and explaining the Dewey Decimal system.  When kids check out books, ask them their names and say them back to them. “Thanks for checking out a book, Sam. I’m glad you’re here.” Names can be powerful, and it can mean so much to your students.

What are you doing to get ready for the new school year?  Are you already in session – how’s it going?


Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com. She was a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest from 2015-2018. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.