Friday, December 21, 2012

Myth #9 Post Survey - Library Time Should Be Part of the Rotation

I have been accused of being biased in the survey with which I opened this Mythbusting blogpost.  To some degree that is true, and it was done by design.  We are on a mission to prove or debunk a specific "myth" or mindset about library practices, so I did approach library scheduling from the angle of "Flexible Scheduling is Best".  Each time a myth is presented, I languish over the questions to put in the survey, and there has not been a single survey yet that I didn't think of additional or "better" questions after it was released.  Your answers never fail to lead me to a broader perspective, which is the general purpose of our Mythbusting.  All of our surveys seek to shed light on what is happening in the trenches and aim to open dialogs that enable us to learn from each other as we operate in less-than-ideal library settings.

That said, let's ponder the reality of Rotations and Flexible Scheduling...

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal.  This is the ideal I was taught to strive for since I first read Information Power and decided to enroll in library  school.  
"The library media program requires flexible and equitable access to information, ideas, and resources for learning." (American Association of School Librarians, 1998, 89).
Flexible Scheduling is the idea I was taught while working on my MLiS.  

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal within the Standards and Guidelines that I used to measure my libraries' success for the past 12 years. 
Library is flexibly scheduled and adequately staffed, and librarian provides at least 90% of point-of-need training for staff and students.  (School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas, Standard 1, Principle 3C)

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal that National Board upholds.  

Specialists regularly involve others in discussing optimal facility use, and they understand the advantages of flexible scheduling, extended hours, and remote access to the library’s resources. 
They advocate for flexible scheduling and open access to resources and information to meet students’ learning needs as they arise. (Library Media Standards, 2012, 36, 47)

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal that International Bacalaureate promotes for its schools, stating in their standards and practices that libraries play a central part in the implementation of the programmes

Flexible Scheduling is the ideal.  And few of us are working in ideal settings.  

Perhaps you are held back from the ideal by staffing, space, administrative mindsets, student populations, or other factors.  Some of you replied it is difficult to advocate for flexible scheduling when providing conference time for teachers is what is saving your job.  It is difficult to provide flexible access when your library is barely large enough for one class... how can you accomodate independent users at the same time?  Or if you are the only staff member, how can you teach a class and assist other patrons simultaneously?  In many cases you can't.  But you can be flexible in your thinking.

Perhaps instead of Flexible Scheduling  it should be promoted as Flexible Access.  If you must be part of the rotation, is there any time beyond their regularly scheduled lesson that students can access the library to trade books?  It doesn't have to be all day everyday, but is there a time (before school, advisory, homeroom, lunch, after school) when the library is open to students?  

Perhaps, rather than Flexible Scheduling, we should think in terms of Flexible Teaching or Flexible Planning.  There is no law that states you must teach random lessons out of context just because you cannot attend planning meetings.  A few emails can clue you in to what is currently being taught in classrooms.  Start with one teacher.  Make the effort to build upon classroom curriculum even if it is only a one-way street right now.  Some teachers will recognize what you are doing and begin to make requests.  This is a good foundation.

What you said....

The last question asked for YOUR advice...

Be patient.  
These words were a good reminder for me.  In moving to a new school, I want to see change instantly and forget it takes time.  It takes time to establish trust.  It takes time to build relationships.  In my case, the primary teachers still prefer to come at regular times.  Fine.  I am meeting them where they are at right now, but I am also planting seeds for the future.  I have been able to open the flexible schedule door through informal conversations and "small-scale" flexibilities, inviting teachers to send their students in small groups if they need new books, canceling or rescheduling their library time without hard feelings when another classroom task demands that time, letting them know they can stay longer when the next period is free and students are happily reading, suggesting to primary students they send their students up to change books between weekly visits.  


  1. Implement the change at a pace that works for you and your colleagues. Give researched reasons for your changes and how and why they will benefit the students.

  2. Our state mandates a flexible schedule, however many administrators disregard state rules. Having been a media specialist at a variety of levels, I believe a hybrid schedule works best for primary grades with more flexibility as they get older. I believe I have many students with little knowledge of the library because of flexible scheduling at lower levels. They have no grounding in basic library skills.

  3. Middle Grades LibrarianDecember 22, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Educate your administrators and teachers on the importance of collaboration and incorporating information literacy in their plans and also as a way to meet standards. Also stress the importance of the team teaching rather than babysitting.

  4. DON'T! (k-7) should be on a fixed schedule where info Lit skills are taught and taught and taught! Moving towards a hybrid by 7th so the teachers are seeing how those skills can make a difference.

  5. Be patient. Circulation may increase or decrease, you will have times when no one is in the library, but use this time for your other duties, and times when it is overflowing. You may see some studdents several times a day and some only once every couple of weeks. When teachers learn that they can access the library, its materials and you at any time, this should be better for all.