Guest Post: A Day in the Life of a School Librarian

Hey guys! Kat here. As you may know, we have a “A Day in the Life of…” series going on here at Pub Crawl, and today we have the fabulous Laura Wardle talking about her day as a School Librarian and writer 😀 

Tuesday 24th March, 2015

5.00 a.m. My alarm blares. I roll over and fall back to sleep.

5.10 a.m. My alarm goes off again. My fiance, Neil, mutters for me to turn the blasted thing off. I scramble for my phone and knock it off the bedside table. Forcing myself onto the floor to feel for it in the dark, its shrieking stops just as I grab it. Sod’s law. I consider climbing back into bed—I’m so not a morning person—but Neil has nabbed my pillow, so I grab my dressing gown and head to the kitchen.

5.14 a.m. Armed with coffee, I sit at my desk and open my revision folder. As part of my evening routine I prepare my desk for the next morning. With only an hour and a half to work on my manuscript, I need to make every second count. My desk has to be tidy, with all that I need on hand, so I can get straight on. For the last few weeks that has been my revision folder, comprising of Susan Dennard’s brilliant revision series printouts and worksheets, and a hardcopy of my manuscript. I work on GMC charts for my characters. I get stuck on the antagonist’s internal goal for a while, and move onto filling in the character honing sheets for my protagonists Pausing to drink my now lukewarm coffee, I have an idea for the antagonist. I pull my notepad close. Frantic brainstorming commences.

6.46 a.m. Neil’s up and joins me in the study to work on a component for his 3D printer design before work. We chat while he gets his programmes started up and I pack up. The revision folder goes into the tote I haul everywhere, along with my pencil case, writing journal, Kindle, and day planner. This way, I can work from pretty much anywhere.

6.55 a.m.I shower, and get ready for the day. I spend a good few minutes covering up the crater-size dark circles under my eyes.

7.13 a.m. I scoff a bowl of porridge, and rush out the door. Road works on the route to work are adding an extra ten minutes to my journey. The radio stays on low, more for white noise than anything. I spend the forty-five minute journey wrestling with ideas for a later scene. Yes, I talk to myself. No, I’m not insane. I’m a writer. Same breed, really. Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do comes on the radio and I spin the volume knob. That song has infected my brain.

8.06 a.m. I’m at school now. The library is open for the day—lights on, furniture straightened, beanbags beaten into shape. I catch up on e-mails and reply to an English teacher asking if she can bring her literacy group across during first period, then read the daily student bulletin. A couple of students come into the library to print homework for the day, and some staff pop in to use the printer. I pull out my school day planner and make a to-do list. (Side note:  I swear by to-do lists, in all areas of my life. Straight-up type-A personality here.) First up is preparing for Reading Buddies, a reading scheme in place for the lower school to improve their reading ages. On the front desk, I set up their tracking sheets and the reluctant reader books specifically reserved for the scheme.

8.33 a.m. Staff briefing. Every Tuesday and Thursday, all staff meet in the staff room before the school day starts to make sure we’re all up to speed on what’s happening across the school. Briefing goes a little over as there are loads of notices to share, and we don’t get out until a little after the bell.

8.47 a.m. A few students are already seated in the library with their books and tracking sheets. These are the keen kids—the ones enjoying the free hot chocolate incentive. More peer mentors and students turn up and I put them in pairs. The last two mentors to turn up have the unfortunate task of tracking down stray students. A couple of students are absent, but the turnout for Reading Buddies is still brilliant.

9.15 a.m. A bell rings to signal the end of registration. The kids bring back their books and sheets to the front desk, and I get them put away to free up some room. More straightening up tables and chairs follows, ready for the literacy group. I’m printing invitations and schedules for the next cycle of Reading Buddies when they come in a few minutes later. With the library being used for their lesson, I need some quiet work. I cut out, fold, staple and seal envelopes between directing students to specific titles, and issuing, discharging and renewing books. One of my library assistants comes up to change her book—she’s re-reading Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series for the umpteenth time—and we debate over the content of Queen of Shadows.

10.12 a.m. The kids leave a bombsite behind, so I spend the next fifteen minutes reorganising and straightening most of the fiction shelves. Non-fiction is a constant state, but that’s nothing new—I’ve just finished purging and need to action all the stock that will stay. Big job. When the library is reset, I check my emails again. Nothing urgent.

10.45 a.m. It’s break time. I grab a coffee, and sit down in the staff room with my revision folder. I jot down those ideas from earlier, and get Love Me Like You Do stuck in my head again. Damn. Unable to focus, I pull out my wedding to-dos (yep, planning a wedding, too) and make a separate to-do list of what needs to be done this week. Told you, I live by them.

11.11 a.m. I take breaks before the kids, so I can supervise the library during theirs. I spend a couple of minutes clearing off the desk and computer for the two library assistants schedule to help out this break time. I sit at the table by the front desk so I can keep an eye on the library assistants—they are discharging books from the returned box—and any kids who come into the library, and replace the Dewey labels on a pile of non-fiction books. A student brings in an order from the latest Scholastic Teen Book Club magazine. She wants The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Good taste. I’ve ordered the same one.

11.38 a.m. Another bell. The kids leave for class, and one of my off-duty library assistants helps tuck in all the chairs. I reward her with a positive on her house card. I remain at the table, putting new labels on the non-fiction. I’m almost through a full bookcase when my handwriting pen runs out. I’m fussy and won’t use a ballpoint. I check the time and it’s a few minutes until I break for lunch, so I check my emails again. Watching the computer clock now waiting for the minute to be up. Writing tote already in hand, ready.

12.40 p.m. I dart for the staff room, and scoff a quick lunch of last night’s leftovers. I hit the revision folder again. Back on with the antagonist’s GMC internal goal, and his chart is completed in no time. I work through GMC charts for three more characters, then onto their character honing worksheets. I don’t realise my break is over until my colleagues start piling into the staff room. I stuff all the papers into the folder, and run back to the library.

1.45 p.m. I forgot to make myself a post-lunch coffee. Damn. Ah, well. No time to go back now as the library is busy. We’re one library assistant down as she’s gone home poorly, but the remaining assistant mans the desk fine on her own. She’s a pro. Meanwhile, I have to kick out a couple of lads for eating sweets at the computers. I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to eating in the library. I picked out too many mouldy bread crusts and burger wrappers from the bookshelves to allow eating in here. A student librarian who’s volunteering for her Duke of Edinburgh award comes to start shelving the non-fiction I finished earlier. The shelves are pretty bare right now, but we’re getting there.

2.36p.m. A science teacher has booked the library fifth period to finish up the Science Week investigation posters her year seven group is doing. I set up a box of relevant non-fiction books to help their research. Again, while the kids are working in the library, I do quiet work. I sort through my ongoing tray, and reply to an email from PE department, asking if I will mind supervise an exam in the library over first and second period for a couple of year elevens on Thursday. I’m updating my school day planner with an event I will be attending after half-term when I get a call from a colleague up in isolation, asking if I’d mind running her a laptop up for a student. I do just that. I’m flagging, and stop by the staff room on my way back to make another coffee.

3.31 p.m. Posters complete, the science teacher sends her class back to the science lab. She leaves me three of the posters to display on the front panel of my desk. The school day ends, and a handful of students come to the library to do homework or use the computers. I do my end of day housekeeping duties—tidying up around the students, checking emails again, updating the date stamp, updating the stationery sales boo, plugging all laptops in the trolley and locking it up. I clear my desk off. I thumb through a volume of High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara, and it makes me smile. It’s one of few dozen manga I donated to school when I first started. I love sharing them with the kids. It’s almost like being able to read them for the first time again.

4.04 p.m. I drive home, blasting the radio to keep awake. I’m so tired. I dream about taking a nap, but know it won’t happen. Neil and I are supposed to be going to the gym tonight. We joined last week and still haven’t found the motivation to go. Maybe it’ll hit me once I get home.

4.56 p.m. Of course, it doesn’t. I force myself to  walk to the retail park behind our apartment building without stopping by home first, because I know that if I stop, I’ll crash. I pop into Lidl for some produce. They were sold out when we did the food shop last night. I buy a cinnamon roll for Neil. Thankfully, there’s only one left because I was tempted to get one, too. Good job, if I’m not going to the gym.

5.07 p.m. Neil gets home while I’m putting the shopping away. He announces he wants to work on his printer design tonight, so we’ll start the gym next week instead. I’m hugely understanding, and more than happy with that plan. He plays on his PS4 for an hour to unwind, while I do some housework and watch YouTube videos.

6.20 p.m. We’re both in the study, headphones on. I’m examining my scene cards, looking for plot holes.

6.48 p.m. I finish up scene ten, then stop to make dinner with Neil. I clean the kitchen as we go. We eat, and while Neil gets back to work, I pack leftovers for lunch tomorrow, and start my evening routine.

8.29 p.m. I struggle to keep my eyes open, but want to get to scene fifteen. I can barely finish eleven. I’m too busy nodding off. I tidy my desk, ready for tomorrow morning.

8.52 p.m. Leaving Neil in the study, I go to bed. I try to read a chapter of Fated by Sarah Alderson, but can’t even manage a page.

IMG-20150407-WA0001LAURA WARDLE is a school librarian and writes fantasy novels for teens. She has more ideas than time, drinks far too much coffee, and loves binge-reading awesome books. She lives and writes in Lincolnshire, England, with her wonderful fiancé. You can visit her blog, and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


10 Responses to Guest Post: A Day in the Life of a School Librarian

  1. Julie Apr 10 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Laura, this post is such a fun peek into your life! I love the way you balance your job with your writing. Thanks so much for being our guest here at PubCrawl! <3

    • Laura Wardle Apr 13 2015 at 3:11 pm #

      Thank you so much, Julie! It’s a daily struggle to make enough time for writing. I long for the day I can give up the day job, and have all the time in the world to write, but it’s a means to an end right now, and I’m lucky that I can switch hats at the drop of a hat to make the most of my writing time. Still, I feel like I fail at trying to balance it all. Something is always sacrificed, but that’s the price we pay for our craft, isn’t it?

  2. Catherine Conn Apr 10 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Loved this! Such great info. It’s always interesting to me to learn about other writers processes. Thanks for the look into your day!


    • Laura Wardle Apr 13 2015 at 3:12 pm #

      Thank you, Catherine! Really pleased to that you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Beth Apr 12 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    This was a really fascinating read – I love hearing about the writing process and day-to-day lives of other bookish people!
    Beth x

  4. Christina @ Christina Writes Apr 13 2015 at 4:43 am #

    That was such a sweet read! My mom’s an American History teacher, so I can totally understand being black-out tired by 8pm. To imagine, working a full day like this while trying to finish writing a book! I admire your organization and motivation!

    • Laura Wardle Apr 13 2015 at 3:23 pm #

      Awww, Christina, thank you. Such a lovely comment. It’s hard, I won’t lie. But I can’t live without writing, and I’ll make any and all sacrifices for it. 🙂

  5. Abby Apr 14 2015 at 9:14 am #

    I am so impressed by your commitment to your writing! I teach middle school history, and I’m constantly struggling to find the time and energy to write during the workweek. Right now I try to fit it in before and after dinner, but it’s tough. Thanks so much for sharing your experience–it’s inspiring!

  6. Lori T Apr 15 2015 at 9:39 am #

    This was a fascinating, and very familiar, topic. I work as a high school assistant librarian and it always cracks me up when people think librarians “just sit back and check out books all day.” When you break down a typical working day in a library (not to mention everything you do before and after work), I think it stuns most people because they don’t realize what all it takes to run a library. And like yourself, I have to juggle a full-time job with family/home-life duties and writing novels (well, trying to become a published writer!) Days are long and often stressful, but it’s all well worth it 😉

    Thanks, Laura!

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