In recent months I've had numerous opportunities to visit media centers in other districts as we plan for media center renovations and program improvements at our senior high. Our visitation team included media specialists, board members, architects, administrators, local press, and community members who care about media centers. In recent years, I've frequently hosted similar teams of visitors. What do visitors want to know? What can a media specialist do to prepare for them?
Assume you will have visitors. It may be other educators just passing through, it may be people specifically coming to visit your media center, or it may be parents attending an open house. Assume they will not always ask the kinds of questions you would like to answer. Assume that you will not always know when company is coming. Most of the media specialists in the schools our committee visited didn't know we were coming because no one had told them to expect us! Worse yet, some host tour guides ignored them. Be prepared! Have the information in your head and on paper so you're ready when the time comes. Anticipate questions, compile the basic information, and take it one step further by being prepared to share information visitors don't know they need to know. If appropriate, approach the visitors to offer your insights.
For Starters, Know the Numbers
All visitors want to know numbers. What's your square footage? How many computers are there? How many books do you have? What's your staff? Those were the first questions our lay team members asked at every media center we visited.
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