[Imagined dialogue with staff and administrators.] Hello! My name is Erin Hanna. On behalf of Lexington Middle School, I'd like to welcome you all to LMS Library Guest Experience Services. Each year, we’re given approximately 180 opportunities to create a great school day. As your Guest Experiences Coordinator, I’d like to partner with you to make this year an exceptional one!
You are welcome. This space belongs to all of us. Please know that we welcome you and want you here. In addition to our shared space, we hope you’ll take advantage of the many services we offer. These include (but are not limited to) library orientation, research skills lessons, lunch book clubs, in-person and digital escape rooms, book fairs, Creation Lab makerspace activities, video recording equipment, and book checkout from our carefully curated print and digital collection. Interactions with the library and staff aim to equip students with learning opportunities and critical information evaluation tools. We have books in which you’ll see yourselves and your students reflected and books in which you and your students will learn about lives different from your own. The library provides tools to help us learn from others’ perspectives.
We are available to serve you. Remember that we’re here to create and organize your optimal experience! If we don’t have a book that you or a student would like to read, let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate these wishes. If you’d love to have a guest speaker support your classroom curriculum, we’ll set that up for you. If you need a new digital tool to use for content delivery or help troubleshooting one you’re currently using, we’ll work with you to find a solution. We will also share tissues, band-aids, pencils, and change the laminator film. We want this school year to be great and for the library to earn five-stars from each of you!
We can offer recommendations. We love to find books, opportunities, and experiences that we hope will be of interest. Please ask us for book recommendations and share your suggestions with us. Peruse the library website for upcoming activities, interesting book news, and resources that will be helpful for projects in many curricular areas.
We are willing to customize your experience. We want to get to know you and your individual needs (and dreams!) for this school year. We want to provide resources as well as help design and host special experiences to support classroom activities. We’d love to connect your initiatives with community partners to extend learning beyond the classroom. Let us know your expectations so we can assist you in meeting and even in exceeding them!
Submitted by Erin Hanna
As I sit here writing this blog post about budget plans, I have come to the conclusion that this information could probably fill a book, be a 60-minute presentation at a conference, or even a semester-long class within a school library program. There are a lot of parts to this, and the post below will just skim the surface. I am by no means an expert on creating a school library budget plan, but my goal for you after reading this post, is to just stop and think about how purposefully planning and spending your library budgets could impact your school library program.
The new year has kicked off, students and staff are getting back into the routine of things, and it’s the best part of the year for many of us librarians - we get to start spending the new school year’s budgets. Now, when I say budgets, I truly mean any funds available to the library to improve the services it provides to patrons. Some districts are fortunate enough to have budgets allocated by administration using a specific formula. Other districts will provide libraries with the minimum amount of funds required by the state. There are even some librarians who will have to rely solely on grants and fundraising to be able to purchase any materials for their space. Regardless of how you receive your “budget” it is imperative to spend it responsibly.
I know that for the first several years I spent as a librarian I was so excited to have all this money to spend on books. I mean, who wouldn’t want a job where people gave you money to buy hundreds of books? But the problem is, I just spent the money. I had no idea what I was doing, what money was going towards what, I just knew that I had to spend as much of it as possible. At the end of the year, I would sit back and wonder, well where did all of that money go? Oftentimes, I couldn’t quite remember, and I knew that was a problem. After a few years of following this cycle of just blind spending my budget, I had to make a change and become more purposeful in my spending. I needed to come up with a plan.
The first step to creating a budget plan is to identify the needs of your library program. There are a few ways you can do this. First, look at your collection, and identify areas that need special attention. Both Follett and Mackin have great collection analysis reports that provide specific information, sometimes even down to the dewey decimal number. Second, reach out to your patrons, both students and staff to determine the needs they might see for your space or program. Finally, use your professional judgement and personal professional goals to identify the direction you would like your collection or program to head over the next nine months.
Once you have identified your needs, it's time to start planning on how you will spend your budget to meet the needs of your program. Here’s a quick list of ideas to create your own budget plan report, and of course you can find some examples on Twitter and Pinterest.
IDEAS OF WHAT TO INCLUDE IN AN BUDGET PLAN
Your budget plan could be an extensive spreadsheet that outlines every little detail about your spending this year, or it could be a one-page Canva graphic that highlights just a few things. Regardless of the size or the format, a budget plan helps us reflect as librarians so we can set goals for our spending and provide better services to our patrons.
Here are a few other considerations to make while creating your budget plan.
Once you get into the habit of creating a plan each year, it’ll become a natural part of your collection development process. Your vision for the library, especially through a budget plan, will continue to help your collection improve and secure budgets for future purchases.
A library is only useful if the materials and resources in it are easily accessible. As I spent time over spring break working in another school library for a class I was finishing this semester I was introduced firsthand to genrefication. I hadn’t given this a thought for my school library as our district has not embraced this trend yet, but I had talked with others who had successfully done it in their districts and loved it. The library I was in was genrefying their upper elementary and high school fiction section for several purposes: to increase circulation, to make it easier for students to locate specific genres needed for class projects and to help analyze and enhance the collection. It helped me start thinking about the pros and the cons of organizing a library in this way. I would like to share a few pros and cons with you.
Genrefication is no quick or easy process, but there are ways to simplify it and not make the task quite so daunting. Each librarian must draw up their own plan, locate the person power to help physically shift the materials and use ready made tools to help them ease the process. The first step is to run circulation statistics and begin weeding. Once the weeding process is finished you can examine your collection to identify which genre labels you want to use to genrefy your collection. There are quite a few different choices available. These are just a few to choose from: realistic fiction, chick lit, romance, historical fiction, science, fantasy, horror, manga, mystery, adventure, sports, and guy reads. After ordering and receiving your labels (Demco sells them.) you must decide when you want to take on the challenge of labeling and relocating the books. When labeling you may choose to create your own scheme for labels beyond the genre labels. “Identifying series titles was important because we had so many, and I, like most librarians, certainly couldn’t remember the correct order of all of them,” (Sweeney, 2013). You may choose to order series stickers or just buy colored dots and mark them with the numbered title in the series. Some librarians choose to work section by section and put up under construction signage so students and staff know to avoid that section. Others choose to do the shift over the summer so they can spread things out and really plan for the space they need for each reclassified section. When you are finished with the relabeling and reshelving it is time to work on signs so that your patrons can easily locate the genres. You could even create a video for classroom teachers to show to students before they come to visit the library for the first time after genrefying.
Genrefication works well for school libraries because it removes the frustration of learning to use the catalog and searching for related topics under different call numbers. It also frees up librarians to make book recommendations instead of having to guide students around the library. Students feel a sense of confidence about the library when it is welcoming and accessible. Genrefication works well with children because they are more likely to be browsers and to be obsessed with certain topics and benefit from those topics being placed together. However, if one of your library goals is to teach the catalog then you may have to rethink how to do this if you genrefy. Will you do the Dewey, or not?
Submitted by Deanna Hirschman
Rodgers, L. (2018). Give your circulation a lift. School Library Journal. July, 24-27.
Sweeney, S. (2013). Genrefy your library: improve readers’ advisory and data-driven decision making. Young Adult Library Services. Summer, 41-45.
Witteveen, A. (2019). Flipping for genrefication. School Library Journal. September, 40-44.
Krysta, (10/01/2019). Pros and cons of the push for shelving by genre in libraries. Pages Unbound Reviews, pagesunbound.wordpress.com
As many of our libraries prepare to close for the summer, there’s no better time to look back at all of the incredible things that have happened - especially after this year. My favorite way to do this is by creating an annual report for my district’s elementary library program. [Click here to see my @elemlibraries66 Annual Reports]
Annual reports come in a variety of formats and can contain as much or as little information as you want. It could be a 10-page document that outlines every little detail about your year, or it could be a one-page Canva graphic that highlights just a few things. Regardless of the size or the format, an annual report helps us reflect as librarians so we can set goals for our future and provide better services to our patrons. They are also a great way to advocate for your program and share with your stakeholders the impact libraries have on student learning.
Once you get into the habit of creating a report each year, it’ll become a natural part of your journey as a librarian. All of the data you collect over the years will continue to help you advocate, set goals, and move forward in this ever-changing profession.
Here’s a quick list of ideas to create your own annual report, and of course you can find tons of great examples on Twitter and Pinterest.
IDEAS OF WHAT TO INCLUDE IN AN ANNUAL REPORT
TECH TOOLS TO CREATE AN ANNUAL REPORT
HOW TO SHARE YOUR ANNUAL REPORT
Share your annual report creation with us on Twitter at @NSLAorg!
Written by Kelly Kenny
This year of the pandemic has been demanding, stressful, and more work for most librarians. When students were sent back to school in person, many librarians were frazzled about what that would look like, how we could do checkout, and how we could best assist our students’ reading needs. All specialists have been working off of a cart going classroom to classroom at my school since students have been back in person. It is a lot of work to travel to every room, but something that I have truly enjoyed is putting the perfect books into my students’ hands.
Every afternoon my library para and I prepare 6 crates full of books that we take to classrooms the next day. We have a specific number of books we pack for each room, depending on their grade level and reading level. We pack various fiction books, picture books, nonfiction books, graphic novels, and Spanish or Bilingual books. Then the next day in library class, after I teach a short lesson, I find an empty table or space on the floor where I can lay out those books in rows so that students can see them all and point out one to three books that they would like to check out. This is a very tedious process since I can only allow one student to check out at a time, and it takes anywhere between 20-30 minutes to complete this process.
Though tedious, this checkout process has been a great time to bond with my students over books. In a typical year, my students would find their books, bring them up to the counter, and my library para would assist them. With this new process, I have had to be much more involved in the checkout process, and I love it. This has allowed my students and me to have conversations about the books they are reading, students have asked me for recommendations, and I have had the chance to suggest specific books to specific students. It has also allowed me to get to know their interests more and discuss what they like to read.
Since we have to pack bins this year to bring to the classrooms, this has also given us a chance to push new books that have come in and older books that are still great but haven’t been checked out in a while. Since we have to hand-select the books that the students see, this has helped us pick books aimed at the correct level of students who will be reading them. It has also allowed us to choose books that represent the students within that classroom. This has been a great time to help our students find windows and mirrors within their library books. When I pack the bins, I try to think about which specific students are in each class, and I pack books that I believe will resonate with those students.
Although this pandemic has been a challenging and devastating time, there have also been some positive things that have come out of it. I know many people would think, well it’s not fair that your students don’t get to choose their own books, and of course we would like them to choose their own books. But, until it is safe to do so, we will be checking out in the classroom, and the students seem to be loving it. Many times what I hear from the students is, “Miss, there are too many choices!”. We do allow students 3rd -6th grade to place holds on books if they would like different ones also. So until we are allowed to go back to the library, checking out in the classroom is still very enjoyable.
By: Samantha Brown
I scoot down the school hallway, copies in hand, shuffling my keys to unlock the library when I see her, she's standing still and looking at posters.
“Good morning,” I say quickly, shuffling by.
“Aren’t these neat,” she says--slowing my pace--gesturing so that I will stop and really look. “They really are saying something.”
I have walked past these motivational hallway posters what feels like one million times and never taken the time to read one. As I stand here with her, reading one after the other, I feel my shoulders soften, my to-do list feeling somehow more manageable.
Yes, we teachers and librarians move fast to get things done, but this woman also had things to get done–and one of the things on her list was to notice the good stuff around us.
The library is a great place to foster gratitude practices (intentionally noticing the good) this winter season--in virtual spaces and in real life. While we might not feel thankful in 2021, we can mine for gratitude in ways that impact our days, our colleagues, and our students. Here are some easy-peasy, plug-and-play ways to jumpstart gratitude at your school this season:
By Evi Wusk
A reading culture. Words my ears savor, and words I love to say often. After ten years of building a reading culture at my school, it was time to tackle the next goal: renovating the library. To support the high volume of checkouts, the increased presence of students, and the number of elementary library classes, it was time to improve the library space.
Two years of preparation were needed for the library addition to take shape. The process was challenging to convince administrators and board members that enlarging the library space was a necessity for our growing district. I attended several workshops that gave me points to ponder on how to approach this money-taxing project and how it could be made possible with fewer dollars. First, I outlined the necessity of space for our elementary students. It was once shared with me that the percentage of space should be equivalent to the percentage of students I serve at each level. Elementary students frequent the library more often than the middle and high school students; however, the space in the library tended to appeal to the older students. Second, the number of books in the square footage of the library meant very little space for teaching, learning, or relaxing. Third, it was time to upgrade our facilities for the growth of our district (and continue to find more room for books!). Finally, I convinced a National Honor Society member to tackle the process of reorganizing the library as her Individual Service Project. It was a win-win situation for us both! And, the administration along with the board members were ready to make this library addition happen.
In the summer of 2018, the preparation for enlarging the library finally came to fruition. The preschool classroom located next to the library was vacated because the building across the street was purchased for the Tiny Tiger Early Learning Center. An opportunity for making more space for books! A large doorway was created in the wall to connect the library and the old preschool classroom. This created an opportunity for an elementary section and a middle school/high school section for the library. The moving of bookcases, books, and furniture were completed by the NHS member. Her project also included painting the rooms, storing and reshelving the books (over 15,000). It was quite the project for her, but I am so grateful she was part of the process. Her eye for design and detail were invaluable. This endeavor made the elementary room of the library larger and allowed for library classes to be conducted more easily while other students peruse the shelves. I also purchased shelves that were lower so our young patrons no longer needed to use stools to reach the books on the top shelves. Our shelves are no longer “stuffed” so students can retrieve books more easily.
I am a proponent of the idea that the library is the heart of the school. I want students to feel safe and comfortable in the library environment. This project gives students the opportunity to feel good about coming to an environment that supports their reading needs. Creating an addition to our library only enhanced the reading culture that was already thriving in our district.
By Mary Gregoski
As a library media specialist (LMS), I often find myself pulled in many directions at any given time during any given day. In this teaching position, that I love so much, I have come to expect that my days will likely never look the same.
Like all of you, before I was a LMS, I was a classroom teacher. Whether I was teaching in the elementary classroom or middle school mathematics, my students and I thrived on our classroom routines, expectations, and normal day-to-day goings on. (An assistant superintendent once asked me if my consistent classroom schedule was for the students or for me. I told him it was for “all of us” - and that was the truth.) Our classroom routine made it so I could focus on teaching and my students could focus on learning. It aided my classroom management.
In my first years as a LMS, I was teaching in a middle school with a set library schedule, which I learned to make work for me. I saw 6th grade students on Mondays and Tuesdays, 7th grade students on Wednesdays, and 8th grade students on Thursdays. Fridays were set as my enrichment days. With the students, I established library “norms” and expectations. I was able to give book talks, share book trailers, talk with students about books, etc. All was well!
Fast forward several years to my current LMS position. I serve middle school and high school students. I have no set schedule. Every day is a NEW adventure!
One of the many things I love about being a LMS is talking to kids about books and reading. I love hearing about their latest reads, their passion for a series, their irritation with how long it takes their favorite author to write a book, etc. Oftentimes during these chats, I get new suggestions of books to order. I also love suggesting books to students to read. When a student approaches me and indicates a need for help finding a book to read, I must admit, my inner-librarian self squeals and claps with excitement. It’s like a puzzle I get to put together. So - the questions begin. What was the last book you read? What did you like about it? What’s your favorite book? What makes the book your favorite? Etc. Until - voila! A “book match” is made!
Unfortunately, I’m not always available to do my beloved “book matching”. This saddens my librarian’s heart, but it is what is. So here’s what I do… Every month, I have a new quirky, punny library theme, complete with posters, signs, a bookmark, and a bookmark with my Bitmoji on it. I display books on the tops of our shelves, and each book has a bookmark placed in it. If I’ve read the book and enjoyed it, I put the bookmark with my Bitmoji on it in the book. This is my way of suggesting books to my kiddos without actually being there! (At the beginning of each school year, I communicate my bookmark “strategy” with ALL of my students. For the 6th grade students this is new information, but for the rest of the student body - it’s a reminder. So, EvErYoNe knows!)
My hope is that each student looks forward each month to what that “CrAzY” Mrs. Fiala is going to “do” in the Media Center. For the record, I’ve not had a repeated monthly theme in the six-years I’ve been at Aurora Public Schools!
by Emmy Fiala
I know you are asking yourself - where did half of the school year go? Let’s start this new year off with some fresh ideas for your library! Here are a few bulletin board, book display and library ideas for you to try out in your space. These ideas can be tweaked for libraries big or small - elementary, middle and high school!
In January I have always had students cut out snowflakes to decorate the library, but I always forget about snowmen! Have your classes decorate snowmen and hang them up on a bulletin board or around your space. I feel that these are just as unique as paper snowflakes.
(Credit: Tillysha Naomi on Facebook)
If you don’t have bulletin board space (like me), decorate your doors! What a great and inviting way to welcome your students into the library.
(Credit: Kimberly Lane on Facebook)
If you like puns, then you will love this idea!
(Credit: Sherrie Rizzo on Facebook)
Snowflakes and snowmen aren’t the only thing that represent winter. How can you incorporate New Year’s Resolutions in your displays? Ask students anonymously what their goals are for 2020 and hang them in a window or on a bulletin board for all to see. It’s a great way for students to reflect, but to also see what their peers wrote.
A great way to start the year is to start a new series. Create a display using the 1st book of any of the series in your library.
Have students who are makers? Create a display of “New Year, New Hobby” with maker books, knit/crochet, various how-to non-fiction books that will spark some interest!
(Credit: St. Louis Public Library)
Something I am incorporating into my library in 2020 is Adopt-A-Shelf. I originally saw this idea on Facebook. I am at a large middle school and you could say that by the end of the day or week, my shelves need some love. This is an awesome way for students to hold ownership within your library. Students will “adopt” a shelf to take care of. This can be just a row or even a whole shelf. A fun way to get students to buy in is to make adoption signs about who “owns” the shelf. You could allow students to decorate their area or not. Let them run with it! Students can come in before or after school, during their library time, at the end of the week, etc. However it will work for you. In return, it saves you a few extra minutes of straightening up your shelves.
Here are a few links to get you started:
Adopt a Shelf!
A fun twist on adopt a shelf https://shawnacoppola.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/our-adopt-a-shelf-program-the-deets/
Happy New Year!
By Rachel Westphalen
by Kelly Kenny, Hillside Elementary
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your top five tips for saving your sanity in the school library! If you'd like to contribute a blog post for the NSLA blog, please email Mandy Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog is a joint effort by members of the NSLA Executive Board. We hope to provide relevant information, tips and tools to help you in your journey.