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The School Librarian Summer Checklist

School librarians around the country share their plans for the summer

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels

I am the Media Specialist at the Woodbridge High School Media Center in Greenwood, Delaware. I reached out to my colleagues to ask them about their summer plans.

Definition of ‘Gerund’

The more I look at it, the definition of a gerund truly defines a school librarian in the summer. Take a look at Webster’s Online Dictionary’s definition.

“a verbal noun in Latin that expresses generalized or uncompleted action.”

The art of any school librarian is the ability to see still what is uncompleted, embrace it, and tackle it, every day, week, month, yes, and even every summer.

We thought it would be fun to take over 40+ school librarians’ views of their responsibilities over the summer (from all over the United States) and then put them in front of students in high school students to categorize and sort. Below is what we came up with. (Hold onto your summer reads and plans, these are insightful and tiring to take in simultaneously!)

American Library Association Conference, June 2022. Photo by the author.

Applying, Balancing, Continuing, Creating, Earning, and Synthesizing

Jacqueline (Anonymous)- In response to your post on the Future Ready Librarians page, I generally travel and read in the summer. Here are a few examples of how I have combined my passions for education and travel.

Debbie (Delaware)- Librarians work other jobs, read, catch up on sleep, read, do workshops on library-related stuff, read, go to the beach and on vacations and read. But seriously, it’s my time to catch up on some adult reads and read more Young Adult reads. It’s hard during the school year with other responsibilities to read books that come into the library. Also, I work another job for extra money since my librarian job pays SO well (insert sarcasm), and I like to go to the beach, visit friends, travel, etc. That helps me prepare for the next school year and reset my mind!

Amy (New Hampshire)- I run the district bookmobile and have summer book clubs! (Plus camp, hike, DIY, and have lazy days near the water!)

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels

Cindy (Kansas)- Creating reading and writing questions for our Kansas State William Allen White Children’s Book Award books while also creating book talks, planning and creating next year’s library theme. I also enjoy adult conversations and the outdoors!!!

Amanda (Louisiana)- I travel around speaking at conferences. Otherwise, I’m a sloth.

Amy (Texas)- I’m checking out my summer school classes once a week, enjoying my short vacation, and getting professional development done because I’m too old for Saturdays and weeknights.

Photo by woodsnorthphoto on Shutterstock

Jennifer (Georgia)- I attend the state library conference, participate in an administrative planning retreat with a new Assistant Principal, read everything Young Adult, map out programming with maker space activities, and go for a couple of weeks vacation in the mountains.

Joanie (New Jersey)- I’m a ten-month employee; in the summer, I teach rock climbing lessons at a day camp.

Alison (North Carolina)- I am teaching at a year-round school as a 12-month employee! We have three work days to get ready for the new year.

Matt (Maryland)- I teach summer school, Math, and English/Reading. I also volunteer as a Disc Jockey at a college radio station.

Kate (Ohio)- I’m spending my summer working part-time in the children’s department of the public library.

Angelique (Anonymous)- I am a Library Aide. I’ll be running a summer literacy program.

Jessica (Colorado)- I teach summer school.

Photo by nappy on Pexels

Kristen (Illinois)- I am working summer school, cleaning the library, weeding, doing inventory, and being involved in professional development. I have been a high school librarian for 15 years. When I started, my library was closed and locked in the summer, and I spent the first two years advocating for all my summer school students’ resources. In the third summer, I could finally have the library open and running during summer school sessions. I now work six full weeks from early June through mid-July, teaching and circulating materials. I also use the time to complete an entire annual inventory, finish up the end-of-year paperwork, and prep/submit new orders and paperwork for the upcoming year. Summer is also an excellent time for me to create or update any video tutorials linked to the library, clean up all online curated collections made during the year, and attend webinar professional development to improve my library and my teaching. For the past several years, I have also become the point person to train all incoming freshmen on using iPads in our school. This summer, I will be adding the job of being the trainer for staff on moving to a fully Google-based platform. To that end, I have already curated the video course and will have daytime and evening Zoom hours available to assist staff one-to-one. I am paid on a separate stipend for summer school with its own contract to sign, usually in spring. My regular contract is the same as the faculty, 10 months.

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels

Erica (Virginia)- I attend district Professional Development.

Beth (Wisconsin)- I work at summer school, do inventory, weed the collection, repair books, build book orders, and read a lot.

Rachael (Texas)- I teach summer school.

Suzanne (New Jersey)- It depends if they are ten-month employees or 12 months. I’m a 10-month employee, and while I go in occasionally to work on stuff, it’s voluntary and on my time. I am hoping this year to get a paid gig helping inventory textbooks in the other schools (I’m at a high school).

Jennifer (Wisconsin)- Our school libraries are open in the summer, so I work there. I also teach summer school classes.

Taylor (Kansas)- I’m a summer school librarian. We’re out at noon each day.

Lissa (Illinois)- I’m a library paraprofessional. It may be worth mentioning that we’re 10-month employees and don’t make as much money as the teachers, so we often have to have side hustles like door dash, Uber, etc., in the summer.

Photo by Norma Mortenson on Pexels

Wendy (Michigan)- I substitute at the public library as well as work as a paid performer for teen craft programs for the public library.

Andrea (Texas)- This summer, I am teaching them how to make sock gnomes. I have also done DIY pop sockets and earbud holders, created flip flop wreaths, decorated mugs with paint pens, made trees out of old books, bookmarked monsters, and made t-shirts.

Tammi (Wisconsin)- I have a deadline with my publisher to complete a novel. Also, I work at the summer bookmobile and do house and yard projects that are neglected all year.

Gena (Texas)- Our district holds a summer library program one day a week, so we’re still working! We also have some paid time to work on bigger projects like processing and cataloging, inventory, planning, etc…

JayQuellin (Wisconsin)- I will be having the library open one day a week at each of my two schools during summer school for checkout. I will also be in, weeding and rearranging/cleaning my spaces to better fit how they were used. Otherwise, I have a job as a server.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels

Carmaine (Kansas)- I read, promote summer reading programs and events, research, design lessons, attend and create professional development, compose grant applications, and update technology and the library website. Those are some of my commitments.

Mendy (Indiana)- I work in the library. I clean, weed books, rearrange shelves, make new labels, take down old decorations, redecorate, make new bulletin boards, and put all of my new books into circulation. I also do the bulletin boards in our teachers’ lounge and two for our library.

Beth (New Hampshire)- This summer, I need to genrefy my fiction section and finish my “FrakenDewey” of nonfiction. I need to create all new signage. I am taking a short class through Stanford on Civic Online Reasoning and media literacy. For the rest of the summer, I plan to read and relax.

Megan (Indiana)- I’ll be presenting at a conference, learning new tech, planning professional development, reading, and spending time with my family!

Photo by Lisa F. Young on Shutterstock

Liz (Anonymous)- Before I had a kid of my own, I spent a lot of my summer “break” working in the library and on my computer at home. It feels impossible to make any headway on my to-do list during the school day, so I’ve always had to do all my planning and projects during my off time away from school.

Crystal (Virginia)- I’m redoing our makerspace with some awesome new furniture (to me) from a science lab, genrefying my fiction section, and teaching a middle school camp!

Laura (Wisconsin)- I read by my pool with my kids, and I take trips up north to our cabin. My library isn’t open in the summer. I collaborate with our public library for our students to use that facility. It helps promote their program and patrons to use the public library.

Lucy (Ohio)- My high school book club was sad last month when I gave out the books and said, “this is the last book of the year.” They talked me right into the summer book club! I read all summer anyway. I might as well include them.

American Library Association Conference, June 2022. Photo by the author.

Planning and Organizing

Mendy (Anonymous)- I work in the library. I clean, weed books, rearrange shelves, make new labels, take down old decorations, redecorate, make new bulletin boards, and put all of my new books into circulation. I also do the bulletin boards in our teachers’ lounge and faculty rooms.

Kristy (Louisiana)- I work on organizing my collection.

D’Arcy (Washington)- I will be working on genrefying my fiction section and putting up a lot of signage. I am weeding heavily right now.

Kim (Iowa)- This summer, I’ll be figuring out how to arrange all the new furniture and then reorganize all the books and decorate (I’m a district librarian, and we’re renovating one of my building libraries). I’ll also be working on book order lists and start reading Young Adult releases.

Photo by ICSA on Pexels

Laura (Texas)- I’ve been retired for the last five years. When I worked as a school librarian, I spent summers working in the library in complete silence. I did a lot of cataloging, lesson planning, and reading library research for school libraries in elementary and middle school.

Anonymous- Hopefully, I can finish my work in my 6 extra paid days — but not likely! I got our award and new books ready for August — read a ton — weeding and rearranged shelves — again this year I provide STEM activities for summer school (16 days and it’s extra pay).

Sharon (California)- I prepare for the next year by hanging out at awesome bookstores. I make a booklist for the next year in case there is money for books. I also write my readers’ theater scripts from picture books. I usually write three a summer. I always go to a library conference. I am busy.

Amanda (North Carolina)- I’m not sure that our fiscal responsibilities are always noted. I do inventory and storing of books and equipment, which saves the district thousands.

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels


Erica (Virginia)- This summer, I am planning to travel on a Civil Rights bus tour, take my daughter to New England for college visits, and read and take online courses towards an ESOL certificate.

Patricia (California)- I read a book a week, 10 chapter books in the summer.

Jodi (Minnesota)- I read read read as much as I can so I can book talk when school starts

Marlene (California)- I collapse into a puddle of goo. I am a potato.

Barb (New Mexico)- Summer….?! I read all the things!! I also am keeping up with new and relevant Young Adult books as part of my superpower, so if I’m in my hammock reading, it’s FOR MY WORK!!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Carolyn (Texas)- I go camping with my family and read allllll the Texas Bluebonnet list books!

Beth (Iowa)- I vacation, sleep, run wild, and eat lunch out.

Robyn (Tennessee)- I sleep late, watch softball, and that other library-related stuff.

Colleen (Oregon)- I sleep in, go on vacations, binge-watch television, go camping, read books, and relax. Sometimes I do some lesson planning for the next year but try not to do too much. Summer is a time to recharge. My library is still there when I go back at the end of August.

Lynn (Nebraska)- I do nothing but read, travel, and enjoy family and friends.

Becky (Texas)- I rest!!!

Thomasine (New York)- It is so important to take care of yourself and rejuvenate.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Anonymous- This summer, I’m reading and working on my library “refresh.” I need time without kids in there to make my mess and not feel like I have to clean it immediately. I am weeding and decorating shelf backs. I bought washi tape to decorate the edges of the shelves…so much fun stuff! Lights! Front-facing the books. I’ve done one section so far.

Melissa (Nebraska)- Read and relax!

School Librarians Are Heros

In looking back at how Library Media Specialists, paraprofessionals, as well as assistants, and volunteers go above and beyond, every day, to ensure school libraries, services, information, and access to that information is moving forward, amid distractions, pandemics, planned interruptions by individuals with their own disagreements, and more, it is difficult to realize how heroic these individuals are.

In the middle of the American Library Association 2022 Conference in Washington D.C right now, you hear and see feats of the library field, public, academic, in the school library, in the professional and special categories of libraries, and by the thousands. If you want to continue to see a whole host of workshops and how they connect to the certified librarian, please continue to check what I have been doing to start MY summer here.

American Library Association Conference, June 2022. Photo by the author.

Thanks to the individuals above, along with the public being informed of how school libraries continue to “happen,” the village that it takes to keep school libraries strong is all around us and continues all summer long.

Pledge to support school librarians!



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