A Day in the Life of a School Librarian

A Day in the Life of a School Librarian
Posted on 12/14/2022

A Day in the Life of an Elementary Librarian
By: Justin Hamm, EF Librarian 

I tell folks I play ukulele and read to first graders professionally. And sometimes, it really is that simple. But more often, an elementary librarian wears many hats. 

My day begins around 7:25 with hall duty—the perfect chance to sing silly songs, hand out high fives, and encourage students who need a daily morning pep talk. I absolutely love hall duty. Positive interactions with kiddos are better for my mood than coffee!  

Classes start at 8:15. Library typically has three parts: a skills lesson, creativity time, and story time. Older students might practice finding books by looking up Dewey decimal numbers or use an online database to uncover quality research. Younger students might analyze spine labels to help identify a “just right” book. Games help us transition. “Librarian Says” and “Improv Acting” are two favorites that get us up and moving while promoting creativity and concentration. 

Next, students tackle independent activities. They might create original comics, design posters online, fold origami, or work on Lego challenges. This is also browsing time. A trained student runs the computer while I assist in finding books. A good librarian should know many books at every reading level to make successful matches. I have to admit, sometimes I can’t believe my luck to be a grownup who earns money helping to find “the best dragon book ever.”  

Story time is when we share good books, discuss characters and themes, or maybe just have a good laugh together. If a class behaves well, I might improvise a tall tale. Ask a Eugene Fielder about the time all the students lost their shoes to the giant panda king! 

I have a visitor or two during each class, students who earned a golden ticket for excellent conduct. This means fifteen minutes of reward time to draw, play a game, build with Legos, or even just talk about their uncle’s motorcycle and the top sixteen reasons they don’t like spaghetti. It’s a great chance to both celebrate and get to know individual students better. 

I believe the librarian’s job is to help the school in any way possible. During plan time, I reshelve, of course, or research purchases or create lessons. But I’m also on a behavior support team that reviews data and brainstorms interventions. And I meet with other specials teachers so we can share knowledge and voice concerns. Eugene Field Library hosts monthly family events, so I’m often gathering supplies or making flyers. There are book fairs to organize and teachers who need curriculum resources from the library. I also try to call parents to share positive news. Sometimes, when the cafeteria trash bags get too heavy, the custodian needs help. While we team lift them into the dumpster, we chat about 1980s professional wrestlers. 

At the end of each day, it’s more hall duty and another round of high-fives. There are usually more tasks than time, so typical days often spill into evenings or weekends. But I’m lucky. Being a librarian rarely ever feels like “work.”