Earlier this month MP Stella Creasy came out and highlighted the ridiculous lack of maternity cover for her public serving job. She has stated she has had to beg the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for extra money to get in extra help to cover the service she provides, other parliaments in Europe have locum MP’s to cover for MP’s who are sick or who are on parental leave.
As someone who, over the last 6 months has had to try and organise what will happen to the service that I provide during my approaching parental leave I find myself sympathising in the extreme. I am fortunate that my school supports the library, recognises the service that the library provides has impact (through shared figures at line-manager meetings) and regards the school library as “a great place to be”, “a wonderful atmosphere”, “incredibly useful” and “a great resource for our
students”. So, how do you go about persuading your SLT to cover your job with the same level and ability as you? What arguments could you use for maternity or any other long term absence?
Think about these questions when talking to your line manager about a planned long term absence.
- What hours do you see the library being open during your absence?
- Which services and events would you like to see continued while away? Which ones have the most impact on the students? SLT can’t run everything you do but they and you don’t want all you have built to have collapsed when you come back.
- How much technical expertise is needed for each role? Knowledge of the stock and service is vital in some capacities but not in others.
- Which long-term or long embedded systems that you are in control of need to be temporarily passed on to someone who can maintain them?
- Is there any capacity for development of a library assistant’s role? With added CPD (even if provided by you)?
- To what extent are any services or events planned in advance? (I currently am working on a calendar of events, where I am planning out all the displays for the next year. Something I have never done but I am really enjoying!)
In order to help me answer all of the above I decided to make a spreadsheet based on the steps below.
- What are the key tasks that you perform day to day, week to week, term to term? Put that in a spreadsheet.
- Put next to each task the level of professional knowledge you need for each one
- What are the key events that you run during the year? How much work is involved?
My exploration doing this myself produced the spreadsheet below and I hope can be used as a base to show the many different tasks undertaken by library workers who are working in a professional capacity. Some people may not agree with the level of professional knowledge I have put down for things like cataloguing but I created it with a specific purpose that as much of the service to students be retained as possible during my absence.
The key in the spreadsheet also indicates the level of competency of my library assistant who predates me in role and is going to be very busy during my absence, I understand a lot of colleagues are solo workers and may be able to use a variation of this document to illustrate how a library assistant, even part time, can increase the service capacity of the library.
This exercise has been useful in that it gave me an overview of what exactly some schools are missing out on by not hiring a school librarian as a specific role. The events, the classes, the teaching, the clubs, the research help, the links within and without the school community all these things are missing when a school perceives the library as a “room with books in” rather than a service.
I hope that when come back from parental leave I will be able to step straight back into my role with very little disruption – which is what any teaching professional in similar circumstances, or indeed an MP, would also expect.