A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Librarian.

I bet you never thought I would get to this second part of my “Day in the Life” series. I shared a morning in the life way back in January and promised I would get a typical day down for you, and it’s taken me…a while. ha! Well it’s here! I get so very many questions about what it’s like to be a school librarian, so I’m going giving you a typical day. To give you a little background though, I work in a large, urban, dual-language, title I elementary school with about 750 students. 99% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and about 98% speak Spanish in the home. Days can feel a little grueling sometimes and there are definitely some tough issues that you have to deal with, but I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone though! As the school librarian, I am on the Fine Arts wheel which means I have classes all day. Many school libraries are just “open” so students are sent down to check books out, or classes can make appointments for classes with the school librarian. That’s not the case in my school. I have all classes K-5 on a six day rotation. Let’s walk through a day, shall we?

7:20am – I arrive to school. Sign in in the office, and get to the library. I put my things down, unlock doors, check the copiers, log on to the desk computer and get it ready for my 5th grade safety patrols to check books in. If I have time, I’ll check my e-mail and start getting things ready for my first class.

7:30 – My 5th graders arrive. I have 8 students who come to the library first thing. They check in books, tidy up the space, deliver books to teachers and they also are my TV Crew. We put on the morning announcements every day.

7:45 – Head back to the TV Studio. Each student has a different job so they go to their places, we run through the script and practice one or two times. It’s such a fun group of kids. I pick them in 4th grade after they’re chosen as safety patrols and I really try to think through how they’re going to work together. So fun. We’re going on a field trip in November to our local news affiliate and they’re so excited about it.

7:55 – The morning announcements go live to classrooms.

8:00 – Round of applause to our Crew. I remind them what their jobs will be the next day and then I send them to class. Now, I get ready in earnest for my day of classes. My first class is at 8:30, so I log into both of my smart boards, make sure my lesson plans are ready, get my class folders out, get any materials we’ll need put out on tables, pull books out for the Kindergarten and First grades to choose from to check out (they won’t start checking books out from the shelves for a few weeks yet. I just have them choose from a table while they’re learning library skills.).

8:30 – My first class! 2nd grade. If I had to teach a grade level, I would choose 2nd. They’re still sweet, but are starting to be so much more with it, and they’ll sit for a longer picture book. They understand school rules, but still want to give you a hug. Love them. I’ll start doing some longer projects/activities at the tables later in the school year, but for now, they’re mostly just on the carpet for story time. I do like to do a lot of crafts, but we’re still easing into the school year with rules and expectations. My classes are for a full half hour, so one class leaves and then the next class comes.

9:00 – 1st grade. I love first grade because I had nearly all of them in Kindergarten. They know what to do when they come in. They are excited and they love it. And I know their names, and who their brothers and sisters are so I can tell them to get it together. haha. K-2 classes sit on the carpet and my formula for K-2 is generally – sing a welcome song, then we have story time (I read a book), we do an interactive activity (last week we sang a welcome song with each student’s name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this week we’re playing a little Jumping Jack game), then we do a library lesson, we do book check out and then stickers and then it’s time for them to go.

9:30 – Kinder. Little wiggly worms. They’re still learning how to behave. Most of our students didn’t go to Pre-K so there is a loooooot of learning to go through in Kindergarten. The first week is the hardest, and then most of them get it together. Again, MOST of them.

10:00 – 1st grade again!

10:30 – 1st Grade lunch duty. The bane of my fine arts existence is doing lunch duty. I don’t want to digress, but I could go on at length. Let’s move along. I don’t want to bring this lovely day down.

11:00 – 3rd Grade. I could really use a break at this point, but there isn’t oneeeeee. My 3rd-5th classes sit at tables, and I have another large smart board on that side of the library. The formula for them is generally – sit down, chit chat, library lesson, book check out and then centers. I won’t get into centers, that could probably be a whole post, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.

11:30 – 4th Grade. Same as third, but bigger. The 4th grades are probably our toughest this year.

12:00pm – 3rd Grade again.

12:30 – Lunch finally. This is very late for me to each lunch. I think we ate at 10:30 last year, which was very early haha. They change the schedule every year! I always, always, always take a break for lunch. I have a small couch in my office so I sit there and eat at my lunch while reading my book. It’s time that is sacred to me.

1:00 – 5th Grade. Last class of the day. The big kids. I’ve had them all since Kindergarten and I know most of their quirks by this time. We have a really great bunch this year.

1:30 – Now I have a little break where I kind of “reset” the library for the next day. Tidy up my materials, make sure that the last class left everything fairly picked up. I’ll walk through the library and pick up anything out in the stacks, etc. I will also check my e-mail real quick to make sure we don’t have any end of day updates.

1:50 – Dismissal begins. I’m always on bus duty, so I check off all of the students and walk them out to their bus.

2:20 – Dismissal wraps up and I head back to the library to do anything that still needs done. I usually do any shelving at this time, laminating, fulfil teacher requests, place book orders, repair books, work on lesson plans for the next week of classes, etc. Meetings always happen right after school too so we may have a meeting or a training every now and then. Teachers are usually milling about at this point so they come to me if they need any books. I also run the safety patrol club with my friend, so we meet now to talk about anything that needs to be done. Andddd I’m starting my fifth grade book club in a few weeks, so I’ve been working on that too. Just enough time to get it all done! Eek! Ok, now you might be wondering how I get everything done in that time. I usually make a list at either the beginning or end of the day with my *MUST DO’s*. I love my new planner from Golden Coil that I got this year. I chose a weekly layout that has three squares for each day, so I make my list there. I do actually have enough time to do everything, and if one thing doesn’t get done – it’s shelving. I can always put that off until the next day. Teacher needs come first, then my own class/library needs, and then shelving. 🙂

3:00 – Teachers are dismissed for the day. I’ve committed to consistent blogging, so what I’ve decided to do is switch off my school brain (as long as there isn’t anything urgent) at 3pm and stay after school to write. I’ve been finding that it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to write, edit and post a full blog post, so I’ve been getting done by 3:45 or so. I go get the boys from their school then! I actually like it better than going right at 3 because I don’t interrupt their recess time. They’re all sweaty, bothered, and miss their snack if I get them right after school. Around 4 works a little better for me and for them!

And that’s it! We usually get home around 4:15 or so, and then it’s playtime, dinner prep, dinner eating, waiting for husband to come home, baths and bed. 🙂

It’s a full, busy day that’s full of life! Any follow up questions? Drop them in the comments if you do!!

6 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Librarian.

  1. Your day sounds so busy but also sweet. I remember my elementary school librarian! She just seemed so magical to me as a kid and I’ve always been a reader.

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  2. Yay! I was waiting for this post because I’m also an elementary school librarian 🙂 My schedule changes yearly as well. Sometimes I’m in the schedule, sometimes I’m not. Do you ever ask for 5 minutes between classes? Back to back all day seems hard! Would love to know what lessons you do with your older kiddos. Thanks again for sharing!

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  3. This was so great! I love a day in the life series. Just out of curiosity, do you deeply enjoy your work? You seem like such a homebody (I am 💯) so I’m wondering why you choose to work outside of the home 😊

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  4. Wow, you have a very busy day with so many students! I enjoyed hearing all about your day, thank you for sharing.

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