April 2013, Volume 5, Issue 4
Check Your Calendars!!
School Library Month
National Library Week
Money Smart Week
World Book Night
Featured e-Resources of the Month
World Book Student now available for iPad and Online Resources for English Language Learners
How we circulate 1,000 books per day
by Robert Behlke, Huron Middle School Library
I have been asked to write about the circulation in my library, 34,000 items as of February 21, and how it got that way. Like many other things that happen in a library, it is the result of many different things happening at the same time.
Ms. Winter, my good right hand, thinks I have a great deal to do with it. I'm an actual librarian, with a Masters degree from San Jose State, and I'm a man, one of less than a handful of male school librarians in South Dakota. I went to college after over six years in the Coast Guard doing small boat search and rescue, responding to boats aground, out of gas, on fire, people in the water and medical evacuations. This brings a different perspective to the types of books I put on the shelves.
I think Ms. Winter has a great deal to do with it. She has a great rapport with the students. Some would rather wait in line to be checked out by her. If they start giving her grief she can remind them that she checked out books to their mother and grew up with their grandparents. Every week she’ll go to the public library for those not living in the city and select books for some student or other. She has their taste down so well they’ll ask for more just like the last ones.
I don't mean in a friendly or inviting way, but that doesn’t hurt. I mean be open. Students can't check out a book if the library is closed and you're nowhere to be found. Even though the students aren't allowed down the main hallway until 7:45 a.m., I have the library doors open before 7:00. You'd be surprised at the number of checkouts I get from the children of faculty members or students doing special projects for teachers. Most of the students are gone by 3:30 p.m., but I'm still available to check out material after 5:00 p.m. to those doing after-school activities or waiting for rides.
Last year the average age of my collection was 2002 (the age of the collection when I arrived four years ago was 1998) and is more current than any other library in my district. I get my books from the usual sources as well as from library sales, thrift stores, used book stores and auctions. This stretches my book budget to such an extent that my average price for a book is less than $8.00, allowing me to put more than 1,800 new books into the collection so far this year. With that much new material, it’s hard not to find something to read.
While visiting thrift store and rummage sales I add to my collection of devices, doodads, doohickeys, gadgets, gizmos, thingamabobs, widgets and whatnots. Our circulation desk has a rotating collection of wooden puzzles, snow globes, lighted paper weights and things that will sit there and spin, rock, roll or light up. The kids are so interested in what's going on that they forget to be bashful and come right up and talk to us. This was especially important during the first days of school, but since we have so many students transfer in and out of the school, we keep rotating new material through the school year. I do hope that someday I’ll be cool enough to hang a disco ball from the library ceiling, just like the one an eighth grade math teacher has.
One day a teacher came in and asked me if I were going to be playing my weird music again. Every Friday I play different music. I may play female country singers one day and the Three Tenors chants on another. Do they come because I might be playing Gregorian chants or bagpipe music? I don’t know, but they sure don’t stay away because of it. We average 200 to 300 book checkouts a day, sometimes hitting over 400.
Be a reader
You can't expect students to read if you don't. Every school year I get about 100 books read and have the titles posted on a large bulletin board in the library. My students see me reading in school, in coffee shops, over Sunday brunch buffets and while sitting on my front steps. What do I read? I consume mysteries, young adult fantasies, military history, science, philosophy and business management, among others.
Be a free range reading advocate
This is my fifth year at the middle school, and I have had only one book challenge. Neither Ms. Winter nor I believe in forcing someone to read a book just because it’s a good book. We encourage students to read whatever they want to read. In fact when we are asked if we have any good books, we pull out our book on cockroaches and tell them that it’s the only good book in the library. While the new Common Core wants an almost 50/50 split between narrative and information, my readers are already reading between 1.6 and 1.9 narratives for every informational book. The difference? The students read more longer narratives at the end of the school year, but more shorter informational books at the beginning.
We have a large number of ESL students, at last count 25% of the 690 student population. We are also a 5th-8th grade middle school. Because our student population is so diverse, I collect at what might be a greater range of reading levels, 0.6-13.5, than most other libraries. I also collect in a large number of formats, including graphic novels - 14% of circulation, easy reading (level 3.5 and lower) - 12.12% of circulation, picture books at 9.63% of circulation and audio books at 1% of circulation. I have also been complimented by ESL teachers for having material that students find interesting at their reading levels.
Be flexible with policies
During the first weeks of school almost every class comes by the library. It’s fun to watch the mouths of the newbies fall open because of all the books—17,834. One of their first questions is always, “How many books can I check out at one time?” Our answer is always, “How many can you keep track of?” As the year progresses, we have some students who will check out 10 books just before the weekend and have them all back before the loan period has expired. Others have trouble with one book. Until they show us that they can’t handle it, we treat them as if they can. Middle school is hard enough without trying to make it a one-size-fits-all world. The same thing with fines—we don’t fret about fines until they get excessive, and for a middle schooler we figure that’s about $5.00. Neither Ms. Winter nor I believe that we are in business to collect fines, but to get students to read, and read they do with over 1,000 books in circulation on any given school day.
Communicating with Edmodo
by Cathy McNeary, Aberdeen Roncalli High School Library
Edmodo is a classroom communication network and a free and safe way for students and teachers to connect and collaborate whether in the classroom or library.
This year we started using it to notify students when books are overdue and to let them know when supplementary materials are available for research and classroom projects.
You can create groups, which I did by grades. For me this eliminated making teachers the go-betweens. Once you are logged into Edmodo, you can create your first group. You will then receive a code which allows others to join your group.
Students will need to create an Edmodo account, but they can do this easily by entering the code you give to them. It can even be accessed from their mobile phones. This is a lot like Facebook, so it is familiar to them. More importantly, it provides a secure learning environment protected by built-in privacy controls.
Teachers can use it to check into topics they are teaching and instantly get great content recommendations to share with students and colleagues. Many of our teachers use it, so it was very easy to get students on board. I strongly feel your teachers would be receptive to this site.
Final School Library Chat is April 11
The last School Library Chat of the school year is April 11 at 3:00 CT and again at 3:00 MT. Please feel free to drop in for any amount of time during either hour. Ask questions and share experiences with your colleagues from across the state. No registration is required; simply go to School Library Chat for details.
School Library Boot Camp registration open until May 15
Come join us for the 2nd Annual School Library Boot Camp on the campus of the University of South Dakota from July 21-24. This course is designed for school librarians, paraprofessionals, teachers and administrators. The 2013 focus is ShaZam! Multiple Literacies in the 21st Century School Library: Common Core Literacy Lessons, SD State Library Online Resources, Children's and YA Literature, and Emerging Technologies.
Attendees can expect daily classes, hands-on activities, and plenty of time for collaboration with colleagues. Two undergraduate or graduate credits earned may be used toward certificate renewal and a school library certificate endorsement. An online portion of the class is required for those pursuing graduate credit.
Schedule, costs and registration may be found at Boot Camp.
What are we reading?
Reviewed by Joan Upell
Lehman, Christopher. Energize Research Reading & Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards, grades 4-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2012.
What do the Common Core Standards look like when translated to real teaching? In this slim volume, author Chris Lehman offers a clear picture for his readers. He focuses on the essential role of research found throughout the ELA reading and writing strands with detailed strategies. He explains "short research projects" as a quick lunch and “sustained research projects” as a four-course dinner.
Lehman approaches research not as a task to complete, but rather as a means of informing or teaching others. Chapter by chapter he travels through the research process with examples of student work, suggestions for differentiating and models of lessons. For example, he offers a twist to the well-known KWL chart to help students find their own research topics. He calls it Investigation, or I Know: I Know a Lot, I Know Some, I Know a Little.
Another idea Lehman offers is to have students edit and revise their research notes and then put them away before they begin to write. This practice helps students to be the expert on their topic and write about ideas, not just recall a list of facts. The many other practical ideas offered in this book will leave teachers and librarians energized, as well as their student researchers. Check it out from the State Library.