I think the same is true for our libraries. When we spend all day, every day in the same place, it is sometime easy to get into a rut. We need to get out and explore and travel in order to bring new ideas to our programs.
The most likely opportunities for travel are conferences. Whether it's a state or a national conference, this is the chance to get in the room with librarians and talk, and share ideas, and learn from speakers. There has yet to be a conference I didn't come back from with at least one idea or strategy to use in my library. In the rare instances when a conference wasn't so great, it still gave my mind time to wonder and ponder, which means I still came home with a massive to-do list to help move our program forward. Traveling for a conference is also just fun. Exploring new cities or catching up with dear friends make the experience even more refreshing.
But, travel can be even easier. Consider asking for a professional day to visit another librarian in your district or a neighboring district. I always loved the chance to go see another library. I loved to explore how the facility looked and functioned. I loved to question the librarian about how they collaborated and what instruction looked like in their building. I loved seeing the special programs and events the library sponsored and promoted. Just seeing how someone else runs their library program can spark ideas and lead to improvement.
Sometimes physical travel isn't possible. Then it's time to explore virtually. Your personal learning network of librarians on social media can be a great way to explore what is happening. There are so many people posting ideas about what they are doing in their libraries. Not all of these ideas will work for you, but they mark spark other ideas. If you find one you are curious to know more about, contact the librarian. See if a video chat with them might be possible to learn more.
So, take some time this summer and this next school year to travel the world of school librarianship. Whether you travel in person or virtually, there are always things to be learned, new ideas to explore, and opportunities to move your program forward. Taking time to get out of the library and see what others are doing can only help your own program to grow. Not every idea will work in your library. Not everything will fit the needs of your students. You may even see some ideas and things that make you take a step back and wonder what someone was thinking. But, even a bad visit can be a learning experience.
As I sit here in the airport ready to board the plane, I know that trip ahead of me is going to be full of fun, full of friends and family, and full of learning. As we talk with our students, all our experiences help us grow and evolve, so I hope this summer is full of those opportunities for you! Next school year is going to be the best one yet! I know it!