It’s late May, and many of us in the school library world are wondering, “Where did all the time go?” while simultaneously thinking “How many days are left?” and “How am I going to get all my work done?”
This time of year three years ago, in my first year as a school librarian, I was bewildered at what I should do to close out a school year with efficiency and sanity. Over the last few years, with the advice of other librarians, I’ve built a set of procedures for the end of the school year that help me finish strong while setting up my program for a positive start next school year.
Here’s a checklist to help you to end the school year well. I’ve formatted this as a checklist you can download, too, so that you can add your own to-do items for a more customized list.
Conduct library inventory. Some librarians I know do this every few years, but I find an annual inventory is important. This is a great place to enlist volunteer support. Without help, I wouldn’t be able to make an annual inventory happen. Some school districts have specific policies about inventory procedures, so check in with your district supervisor as needed.
Coordinate book return. Make posters, make a game of it, offer incentives, wear costumes, go class-to-class — whatever works for your school. But, if you can, enlist some help with this from teachers, parents, and other volunteers because support is critical to a good book return rate.
Communicate with your community about summer reading. If your school has a summer reading program or works with a local public library for summer reading, let students and families know! Connect with your local public librarians to promote their summer reading programs in your school, too.
Submit grades and final student reports. If you are responsible for grading students, follow your school’s procedures for submitting your grades and any comments that might accompany them.
Gather data and send it to stakeholders via a year-end report or newsletter. Consider including the number of classes you’ve taught, Make sure you have great pictures from the year, too. After all, the library is about seeing students reading, working, and creating!
Show your appreciation to volunteers, teacher collaborators, administrators, and student workers. Small gifts or gift cards are great but thank you notes and emails are just as appreciated.
Write up summer instructions for those who might use the library, whether they are summer school librarians or teachers, groups or camps, or students and families. Send the instructions out as needed.
Communicate the library’s summer contact info and hours. If you are not in the library over the summer, put up an email responder that provides your summer contact information or an alternate contact in case of urgent needs.
Set up any summer cleaning and maintenance. Talk to your school maintenance team if there are any special cleaning instructions for the library over the summer. For example, cleaning shelves or carpets are common summer maintenance jobs.
Plan special summer projects. There are some things, like genrifying or major collection shifting, that can’t be easily done when the library is full of students. Summer can be a great time to schedule these projects. In my library, student interns are trained over the summer or come in to help with big projects or computer updates.
Reflect on successful projects and lessons and areas for improvement next school year. When you are in the weeds at the end of the school year, it can be hard to honestly assess how you’ve done. Even harder? Remembering the changes you promised you’d make to a lesson plan or other aspect of the library after time passes. Even if it’s messy, write what you are thinking now about how things went and what you’d change.
School Library Year-End Checklist