Friday, September 27, 2013

Subject Matters

No subject =
No circulation
Weeding the fiction section in our High School collection involves more than deleting books that don't circulate. It's also about updating catalog records to be sure each title has sufficient subjects

If there aren't subjects listed, it's unlikely the book will ever be found (unless the title or author are known). Most of our patrons choose books by searching subjects. They enter topics like "Dragons" or genres like "Science Fiction."

To help them find more books, we're updating our fiction records to include a genre and at least one other subject. 

For genre, we're using these subject headings:
Realistic Fiction, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Action Adventure, Dystopia, Romance, Horror, and Humorous Fiction. Later on, we'll add stickers to the books' spines to identify these genres.

For other subjects we include topics or locations. The first place I go to get subject information about a book is Ohio Link
I can quickly copy/paste subjects into our catalog. It's also possible to "grab" a whole record to import into our catalog, if needed. If Ohio Link doesn't have the book, I go to GoodReads and LibraryThing and see what tags others have used for it. 

Other parts of the record getting an update: 
- Checking there's an "interest" level given
- Checking there's a cover image 
- Checking there's a summary in the "notes" section
Books with Cover Images = Better Circulation

We're hoping this fairly massive project will lead patrons to books more easily and that the books sitting quietly on the shelves will start moving.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Primary or Secondary?

Grade 6: Guiding Question - What is a primary source? What are the benefits and dangers of using a primary source?

After going over the definition (I like this one), students lined up in single file facing me. I stood on a chair and read out specific sources. Students stepped to the right for primary and to the left for secondary. 

This was a great way to see quickly which students are understanding the concept. Here are the examples we used.

Along the way, we talked about the benefits and the
pitfalls of primary sources. A person who writes about his or her own experience or witnesses a particular event does not necessarily write it accurately or truthfully. One sharp cookie in the room brought up the example of Lance Armstrong's autobiography; it's a primary source but it also omits details about the truth. 

We talked about how primary and secondary sources need to be used together and evaluated carefully to help us get as close to the truth as possible.

As we work more with primary sources, we will be practicing evaluation according to guidelines found here
- Time and Place
- Bias
- Analytical Questioning

Next, we looked at photographs from
What questions do you have?
a kit by the National Archives. Students identified as many details about their picture as possible then brainstormed lots of questions about it. What did the picture make them want to know?

We established that the act of questioning is what begins the research process. Starting with primary source documents, like pictures, is a powerful way to begin finding the questions that most interest us.

Full lesson plan here.

Grade 7: Guiding Question - What are "subjects" and how can we narrow by subject to find books?

Students came looking for mysteries since they are studying that genre in their class. We talked about subjects as topics that can be found within the genre. Students already know how to narrow by Interest Level and by Reading Level. Adding a Subject limiter shows them the types of mysteries we have.

This is fun for students because they begin to see how they can match their interests to their search for a book. Mysteries + dogs? Mysteries + murder? Mysteries + siblings? When there are hundreds of books in one genre, narrowing by subject can really help everyone find something good!

In other news:
We have a new video on our digital signs. It's inspired by the P!nk song, "Just Give Me a Reason" and it targets high school students who have lost the love of reading for pleasure.

(Our signs play "silent" so I didn't put the real song as background - too complicated!)

We have a new YouTube channel where you can follow our videos.

Monday, September 16, 2013

All in Three Days' Work

If you are a teacher or librarian, you are likely to turn green with envy as you read this post.

Last week, our middle and high school students were away for three days for "Fall Trips." During this time, I was able to stay at school to get settled into my new job. I've had days without students before, but I've never had days without students AND without meetings! WOW, did my assistant and I get a ton of work done!

All of this got done in three days:

Tumblebook Cloud library (audiobooks)
Deleted all books on tape and found digital or CD options for those still used by teachers. (We are piloting Tumblebook Cloud which has many classics in audio form.)

Identified and deleted 648 old and never-used novels from our Middle Grade fiction section. (These get sent to schools in Africa).

Textbook section
Created a textbook section for in-library use. 
Many students have asked for this, even in the first weeks of school.

Organized all of our digital subscriptions. 
Made a spreadsheet of when they all expire, the contact person, and checked purchase orders to be sure all are running smoothly.

Cataloged stacks of books ordered from Brown's Books. These require manual cataloging, sometimes even original cataloging (Meaning, I make up the record from whatever I can find about the book). 

Organized and cataloged the new magazines we ordered based on faculty requests. (Oprah, Runner's World, Bon Appetit, for example).

Set up two new library social networking sites: Instagram (aisblibrary) and Twitter. Created posters to generate student interest in following us.

Set up a template for our monthly library reports. 
This is a google doc where I can track circulation, subscription statistics, collaborative units, number of classes visiting, and such.

Met with our IB coordinator to talk about how I can support students as they write their Extended Essays. I will be meeting with students along the way to help their teacher-supervisors be sure they are on track with the process. 

Posted New Book flyers with QR codes leading to book trailers.

Planned a lesson for grade 6 students about primary and secondary sources.

And last and most fun of all...
I supervised three students who were not able to go on the trips. They made a "Library Behavior" video that cracks me up. More on that soon!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weed it (don't weep!)

Packed shelves: pretty colors but hard to use
One of the hardest jobs for librarians is regular weeding of the collection. A collection is built over time, and we become attached to the titles. We remember buying them, seeing them on the shelf next to each other. It's hard to say goodbye to them, but that's what needs to be done with those titles that are dragging down the fresher, more current copies we house.

7 boxes and counting...
When books are packed too tightly on the shelves, it's hard to access them. When books are tatty or show out-dated covers, they don't appeal to patrons. Books that don't circulate take up space and make the library feel dated and unattractive.

I'm starting with fiction, middle school fiction in particular. I'm following the basic guidelines recommended in the school library field, (I particularly like this policy from the New Bedford Schools). My process is simple, but time-consuming. Nonfiction is a bit different, so more on that process in a month or so!

Girl dancing with cows? Hmm
Fiction, First round: 
I look at each book on the shelf and get a gut feeling about whether it looks dated or worn. Those that do, come off the shelf and I check their circulation records. If a dated or worn book has not been checked out at all in five years, it gets deleted from the collection. Exceptions include classics or award-winners. I may get a replacement copy of a classic or award-winner if I think a fresh copy might circulate.

Fiction, Second round: 
If I complete the section and still feel that the shelves
Adventure w/pom pom hat?
are tight, I check the circulation of everything on the shelf. If a book still looks good but has not been checked out at all and it has been in the library for more than five years, I am likely to delete it. 

In this round, I have to look at each book quite closely to see if there's a way I could get it to circulate. We can't booktalk every title that comes in, so maybe some of these newer books that have not been checked out just didn't get promoted. I'll try promoting some of these, but if they don't move, they get deleted.

What happens to them? 
Our school works with an organization called "Read to Grow". One of our teachers has set up an agreement with a moving company which provides free shipping for books we are getting rid of. This includes old textbooks, but the library has been a huge donator of books for this cause. The books we delete from our collection are still in good shape and other children very be happy to receive them.

Packed shelves...
Weeding (or "de-selection" if that makes you feel better) is a win-win for us. It freshens our collection, makes room for newer more popular titles, and it benefits children who don't have as many books as we do.

...and shelves with some "breathing room"