Time to Report

As this school year ends, consider adding “Write an Annual Report” to your to-do list. Yes, that list is already long, but it is essential that you submit one, even if it’s not required. So many librarians claim their principal doesn’t know what they do. This is an opportunity to tell them. It can inform even aware principals and increase their appreciation for what you contribute to the entire school community.

When you go through your day, be sure to notice what you are doing: curating, collaborating, teaching, leading, integrating – the list goes on.  Use your phone or whatever method you choose to keep note of these. When you can, take videos and get student feedback, preferably verbal.

Look at the data you have available.  While circulation statistics this year are probably significantly lower than in previous years, you can include the comparison to point out how successful you were despite the drop caused by the pandemic. The same is true of database use statistics.

Did you track the number of classes you taught? What did you add to your program that is likely to remain when school resumes in the fall? The number of teachers you helped, and their subjects or grades show how you affect the whole school. Where were your unexpected successes along with the planned ones/

In putting the report together, remember to keep it brief. Highlight students and their work, but also your connection to the educational program and community. The purpose is to expand your principal’s knowledge of what you do, but at the core it is a promotion of you and the library.

Elizabeth Hutchinson’s blog post, Phew! Finished! Write an annual report …? Why? No way!, echoes my feelings and adds concrete ideas to address in your report. Her big ideas are to:

Find out – You need to know what your school’s mission and goals are. If the library isn’t helping to achieve them, the library doesn’t have value to the school. And if the library doesn’t have value to the school, why have a library? Once you see the connection – make certain your principal does too.

How do you help teachers attain the goals and needs of the different subjects or grades in your school?  This shows your relevance to them. When you are actively involved in helping them, they become advocates for your program.

Planning – Where do you want to go next—and why? It’s the “why” that is important. Each of the jobs you do should be tied to your Mission. And your Mission needs to connect to the school’s. Hutchinson has a list of great questions to ask yourself as you develop this section.

Although Hutchinson doesn’t say this is needed, your annual report should include what you plan to do. It doesn’t have to be a large project. Large or small, your plan should advance your Mission and perhaps your Vision. You can share both those statements, but, again, tie them to the school’s and/or district’s aims. Remember, though, this is not the place to ask for funding. 

As you compile your report, work on making it visually appealing. You may need to present numbers but consider showing them graphically. Incorporate the pictures and videos you have of students and teachers at work and the products they created.

And if this Annual Report is a success–consider doing these quarterly (there are several examples of other librarian’s Annual Reports at the end of the article). They are shorter and will keep you and the library in front of the principal’s awareness and make this end-of-the-year job quicker. Wrap up the year on a note of success and next year will start the same way!