Monday, November 22, 2010

Is it Time for a Nap?

After being awake since 3AM this morning, it’s no wonder when I took a reading break that I chose two picture books about sleeping. The first was Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Using a speech bubble format, a little girl gets her mommy ready for bed. Children will delight in the reverse role as they see themselves in the tricks that Mommy uses to stall bedtime. A surprise ending will have them shouting, “read it again.” A lovely read aloud, it will also be a nice Christmas gift for moms with young children.

For a great laugh out loud bedtime story, read A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Bear is a bit set in his sleeping routines and he likes it quiet. When Mouse shows up for a sleepover, Bear tries to make the best of it. Once Mouse stops with the noise at bedtime, Bear begins to hear unsettling noises. “Mouse!” he cried. “Wake up!” Mouse wisely realizes the fear that Bear is having and helps him settle back to sleep. Readers will laugh out loud as they see through Bear. A lovely story of friendship, A Bedtime for Bear is sure to be a crowd pleaser too.

Now, about my nap...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Library Makeovers on a Budget

Before makeover
After the book shift and new theme
One of the services that my office provides is reorganization of the library facility. Janet, Elaine and I go to a school library, and compare the needs of the school with the layout of the furniture, books and other resources in the library. With changing technology and growing schools (many of our elementary schools have gone K-8), how we used to use a space often differs from the best way to use it now.

So we weed the collection, often moving books to better accommodate assignments from teachers. For example, at Fulton, the older students were looking for fiction books and nonfiction books in the same space. By moving the nonfiction and fiction to the outside walls, students spread out more when looking for books to check out. Sometimes, we move computer stations to an area closer to the circulation desk. We have, on occasion, moved free standing bookshelves away from the front door to open up the entrance space. This often creates an area suitable for multiple purposes or a Storytime.

Now that many of our libraries are utilitzing i21 technology, we want to create a space for teaching an entire class. In those spaces, we try to keep a Storytime area, but corral the tables together so that we can also seat an entire class for instruction. Sometimes the screen needs to be moved so that it is in the center of the instructional area.

Fiction area in transition

We recently finished a complete reorganization of a library that has become K-8. We wanted to create an area for younger students, but also set apart an area for the middle schoolers- the Double Digits. So, we moved the fiction and reference books to the instructional end of the library. We added a paperback book rack to shelve the edgy fiction. A space was created to make a cozy reading area.

To tie in both areas, we used a theme- rainforest. Using the resources at the TMC (Noah, especially), we added leaves, vines and creatures that students will research when they study the rainforest habitat. Old posters were taken down. A few “explorer” type props were added. We suggested adding camping chairs for the Double Digit special reading area. A mosquito netting canopy would set that off nicely.
Instructional area with student work
The next step is buy in from the school. We made a list of props that can be collected and added to the displays. The school will post these ideas. Students and parents will bring these into “their” library. Everyone will have an opportunity to have a part and continue to make the library more inviting and usable.

Students will also have an opportunity to fill out paper leaves and add to the vines. Whenever they read a book they especially liked, they can fill out a leaf with the title and author. The library staff will add it to the walls. Thus, another chance for ownership. Teachers and students who have ownership in a library are your biggest advocates. They take care of the space and care about what happens in it. Remember to call it “our library,” as well. No one cares about “your” library.

A final piece is that the library staff is the gathering volunteers- from parents to students to work in the library. The library staff has created an application form for students to fill out. A letter is going home to parents about helping on campus. The library is one of the places they can help. By creating a usable, inviting place that provides opportunities for ownership, students increase their chances to learn in a library that belongs to them. We, on the other hand, benefit from having help and having nurtured our best cheerleaders.

For more ideas about library themes, see my wikispace, Libraries Matter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shelf Worthy

I just finished a big weed project at a site. This site has gone through two circulation conversions in the last ten years. As I went through the decisions of what stays and what goes, I came to this conclusion: why do we spend time and money barcoding items that shouldn’t even be in the collection at all? Why do they transfer from one program to the next?

I know that in our district, we went from one system to the other so quickly, that it was hard to keep up. In many cases we didn’t have staffing or time to weed before we added all records. But if we are physically putting barcodes on a book or material that no longer has value to our collection, shouldn’t we just delete it then and there?

The same applies to materials we are given. If someone donates a book or material to the library, we should evaluate it before taking the time and energy to add it to our collection.

• Does it add value to the collection?
• Does it meet the needs of the curriculum?
• Is it grade level appropriate for our students?
• Will teachers and students use it?
• Is it more appropriate for a home library than a school library?
• If it was already on our shelf, would we weed it?
• Is the information current?
• Does it have mold or a smell? (straight to a plastic bag please)
• Do we already have a newer edition?

So before, you add a barcode to something, take just a second longer and ask yourself: Is this shelf worthy? If not, discard it or recycle it. You can also use some of the donations for a book sale. Collect these books all year long and sort them into boxes marked 25 cents, 50 cents or 1.00. At the end of the year, have a two day sale. Sell the books at half price on the second day.

Use other donated books as giveaways to your student helpers or as prizes for students who bring their books back. Most secondary schools have a spot near the front door for free books. Good idea! We all love free.

In short, even in tight times, it is better to have no information than misinformation. Discard books with misinformation. Delete worn materials. Free up space in your video or CDROM collection for newer materials. Point your patrons in the direction of digital databases. You are still the “keeper” of the information, just be sure it’s worth keeping.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can I Keep Him, Please??

How many of you found an animal, brought it home and asked Mom if you  could keep it? And her answer? Well, it depends on the mom. I just read a delightful story about just that- only there is a twist. The animal is a child and the one who found it is a bear. The story is Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. Lucy is playing in the woods when she hears a squeak coming from the bushes. “OH! MY! GOSH! You are the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest.” So like any child, Lucy takes him home to ask her parents if she can keep him. They agree on one condition- he’s Lucy’s responsibility.

Squeaker is a great pet- for awhile. They play together. They eat together. They nap together. Potty training is another story. Then the worst happens- Squeaker disappears. Lucy learns a valuable lesson about pets. One that kids can quickly see and relate to as well.

Children Make Terrible Pets is a great read aloud. You might combine it with Princess Justina Albertina: A Cautionary Tale by Ellen Lee Davidson or do a search in Destiny. Search pets. Then narrow your search by browsing subjects. Look in the list of subjects for pets—fiction. Teachers and library staff can create a resource list (after logging in) and make it public so your students can easily find all sorts of fiction stories about kids and their pets. Looking across the district, I can see 543 different titles. How many do you have at your school?