A Library Start-up Year in Review

As the school year came to a close, I thought it important to reflect on the progress that we have made in developing an effective library facility and in delivering excellent services to our school community thus far. Often working in isolation or only intermittently with various constituencies in a school, the work that we do in libraries can sometimes fly under the radar. The annual report that I’ve drafted (below) is an attempt to highlight some of the work that we have been doing. There are of course still many challenges ahead, some of which I’ve attempted to identify in the report, but I feel that on the whole, we have accomplished a great deal over the past ten months.

Starting From Scratch

Open Road © Brian Farrell

I am incredibly privileged to be embarking on a tremendous new challenge this school year. As part of the foundation staff of Branksome Hall Asia in Jeju, Korea, I have been charged with developing a whole school library facility and program. The facilities that have been created at the school are world class and truly remarkable (pictures to follow once all of the furnishings are in!), and my task now is to outfit and create a library and library programming that fits the needs of our learners.

In approaching this task, I’ve begun with a needs analysis to better articulate the end goals that I should be working towards. This processes is easier said than done since our students don’t arrive on campus for another month, but I’m beginning to understand Branksome, its rich heritage, and how it will differ from other international schools. The Branksome library will serve a unique group of learners, as the majority of our students will be:
– Korean girls
– Boarding students
– Using English as an additional language
– Unfamiliar with the International Baccalaureate and its three programs (we are a PYP, MYP, and DP candidate school)
– Connected with Branksome Hall in Toronto through exchanges and regular collaboration

With these traits in mind, I am aiming to create a library and library programming that is accessible (both physically and virtually – we will need to offer in-person services for resident students outside of the traditional school day, and I feel it’s critical that I’m accessible across the school outside of the physical library space), globally-minded, welcoming, and enriching to student growth and understanding.

As the year progresses, the needs of our community will become more clear, but I’m hopeful that the resources and systems that I am developing for our initial start-up will provide a good foundation to build upon. It’s such a great opportunity to have a blank canvas to draw on, particularly when you feel fully supported by your school administration, and I have a million ideas already bouncing around in my head about wonderful things that we can offer as a library.

Having said all of this, one thing that’s critical to developing a library space and programming that’s used and valued is soliciting input and feedback from our entire community. So this post is just one of many attempts to garner input; what would you want from your school library? How can the library best support your classroom practice, and how can it inspire a love of reading? What resources are critical to building understanding and developing the skills that we want to instill in our future graduates? I’m asking all of these questions of myself, but am looking forward to also hearing as many other opinions as possible.