#oneword2021: Refine

For the last several years, I have gotten on the #oneword bandwagon. The concept has been around for a while – choosing at the new year a word that will hopefully guide you to being a better person that year. My very first #oneword in 2016 – I obviously couldn’t narrow it down – were Create and Share. Since then, it’s been Purpose (2017), Community (2018), and I have no idea what 2019’s oneword was. It was that powerful (rolls the eyes).

Looking Back to Look Ahead
At the beginning of 2020, when life was still normal, I chose the word Less. I had a lot going on personally and professionally and I wanted to be able to prioritize things in my life. I was frequently saying YES! to more things than I could devote myself to and was wearing myself thin. In 2020, I carefully considered when to take on something new or had more responsibility. I took more time for myself rather than working late hours like usual. It’s also the reason why I only blogged once in 2020, which was born out of an urge to blog about acknowledging the hard work that school librarians were doing in 2020. While I’m disappointed at the opportunities I missed by saying no or choosing not to participate, 2020 was a banner year for Less – I actually stuck to it all year! Looking back at my previous #oneword successes and failures, I wondered to myself, what should I really focus myself on this year? There are lots of opportunities and new things on the horizon already for 2021. I was torn between two words, but my #oneword2021 this year is Refine.

This year, I’m looking forward to actively seeking opportunities to refine myself as a librarian, including my philosophies and practices. What does it mean to be a school librarian in 2021, and how does that align with or change my philosophy of what a school librarian should be? What are some things I do as a librarian that are really integral to our school community and what needs to change? How will opportunities like conferences, other professional development, and interactions with colleagues challenge my perspective and encourage me to be better at what I do? These are hard questions and not all of them will have easy answers.

Refining My Practices
Lots has happened since I blogged last. For example, my school is completely finished in renovation, including our library (a blog entry I didn’t post this year) and my co-librarian and I (along with our Student Library Advisory Team) began to figure out how our new space could build on the offerings of our temporary space. (Also: Our library was moved without us at the beginning of the pandemic – we weren’t allowed in the building. It was really hard to not be there!) When the unboxing began, we really had to think through the logistics of setting up our circulation desk, our office space, and the flow of our library shelves.

At some point, students will be back in our building this year, and most haven’t seen it fully finished without construction in progress. It also will be the first time our students experience our beautiful, brand new library space, checking out books, working together on puzzles, and joining their classes for lessons. As a librarian – and a teacher – how will teaching practices and collaboration opportunities look in our new space, and what can change due to our enormous amount of space and the lessons learned during virtual and concurrent teaching?

I am currently working on my third iteration of a Makerspace (stay tuned – the grand opening will definitely be a post this year). Our students voted that the name of it will be the Inspiration Studio! There will be lots to consider in terms of what we offer, the logistics of the space, choosing effective and efficient furniture, and making public the philosophy of the space – as well as new and continuous maker collaborations with classes. It’s coming along and I can’t wait to share more details when it is finished!

Refining My Philosophies
This year, I really want to dive into my leadership style and philosophy. School librarians are poised to be leaders in our school communities, and I am looking forward to taking time for myself to learn about my leadership style, really thinking through my values, hopes, and dreams, and making them more present in my everyday librarian life. I have a fantastic workbook that is helping me reflect on lots of ideas, and I am looking forward to hopefully sharing more at library conferences this year, too.

Finally, I want to refine who I am as a librarian, not only my leadership style, but how my perspectives on life, teaching, and education really influence who I am as a librarian. I am considering beginning my National Boards this year, and while intimidating, the overall response I have heard from others is that it really helps you reflect on your practices and philosophy as a librarian. This fits in perfectly with my #oneword of Refine, and I am looking forward to the challenge and growth that this opportunity presents.

In Closing
I always strive to do better for my school community, but I have many chances this year to really re-invent (refine! ha!) what library services mean to me and my school. I want to be able to improve the experience that students and staff have when they enter and utilize our library, for whatever reason that may be. This is the third version of a library at my current school – I have experienced the original library, the temporary space, and now our new space, all in completely different parts of the building. This year, 2021, is a perfect opportunity for refinement, making me and my library better for all. My students deserve better. My staff deserves better. And I deserve better.

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