Relationships in the Library
By Todd Cates
For the first ten years of my career I spent a lot of time trying to run fun programs, even if they failed spectacularly. I finally stepped back after a couple of years at the High School level and realized I needed to focus on building relationships instead of programs.
I made more time to speak with my teachers so that I could meet their needs. Whether I support their teaching through student technology and research requirements, or just provide a space for students to take a test, they know I support their classroom. I also spent time getting to know them personally, so that they saw me as a friend that could be relied upon when they had issues both in and out of the classroom.
I get up from my desk when kids come in so that I can greet them, and help them find the books they want. I spend time asking what they like to do, or watch, or what they have read recently. I then try to find materials they might like, and I seem to get it right more often than not. I’m also available to help with research and technology needs, so that I can be seen as more than just the book guy. And I always make time for a student that just needs to talk or sit away from a stressful classroom, creating a sense that the library isn’t just books and technology.
Building these relationships has helped make our space here at Apalachee a safe environment for students and staff. As they have opened up to me about what they need, feel and believe, I have been able to reflect those things in our catalog. And I am proud that students and staff want to come to the library, not just for books or technology needs, but also to have a cup of coffee and chat.