Updated: Oct 10, 2018
Last year around this time, I chose to tackle my first annual report. No end of year wrap up is required of me, which gave me the freedom to approach the task in anyway I chose. Still, it was important to me that I make it an authentic exercise. If I was going to put the energy into such a reflection, I wanted someone besides me reading it, which is a tricky proposition, especially when you think about who your target audience and is and what other documents are competing for their attention.
Last year, I made the phrase "the bottom line" a central part of my report - in homage to my principal who sometimes interrupts me with the question "what's the bottom line, Jennifer?" if I go a little long in my rant du jour. Even so, despite trying to tailor last year's effort specifically to her attention span, I was nervous bringing it to her. It felt a bit brazen of me to demand her time for what was, essentially, an academic exercise. But, it turned out to be a great experience. It sparked a meaningful conversation and she even ended up sharing it with our district's senior leadership - which felt like a big win.
So, this year, I'm tacking the annual report again. Despite feeling guilty devoting time this when I still have lots of (actually required) work to complete, I also felt bolstered by last year's success and inspired by the freedom to do it any way I want! Here were my goals:
Emphasize information that's important to people OTHER than librarians.
Make it fun, interesting and easy to understand.
Focus on instruction/student impact.
Consider my audience at every turn.
Keep it positive. This has been a tough year for me. My clerk was cut. I have no dedicated budget. I've felt overwhelmed and defeated numerous times. I don't want to sugar coat those things or make it seem as though they haven't had an impact. However, if I refer to goal #4, I know this isn't the place for that conversation.
Which brings me to this year's report, which turned out to be an experiment in infographics. I ended up using a tool called Easel.ly to create it - which was HUGE fun. Easel.ly is super easy to use, but is still in Beta and was sometimes a little buggy. In the week or so it took me to put this together, they added new graphics and backgrounds, so it's definitely a product in development. I'm not super happy with how it looks online (bit fuzzy here, though it looks great in the flesh, so to speak) and I hope Easel.ly decides to create a PDF download option. Other than that, I'm psyched about it.
Finally, if you recognize yourself in this report, that's no accident. My PLN hugely influences my practice and I'm thrilled to be able to share some of how that inspiration has played out in my library this year.