I cannot count the number of times I've created a display for "Books to Big Screen." And kids typically get excited and the circulation of the displayed titles increases, which is my goal, right? That said, you can't imagine how excited I was to read about the ReadIt1st initiative. What's the deal? Students (or adults) sign a pledge vowing to read all books prior to watching the movie. No more spoilers! I feel like I need to sign a pledge vowing always discourage kids from watching the film before they read the book. No more. Now I can just start a conversation the proper way. Why ruin it? The movie will never capture the magic of the story anyway...
This week in the library it was all about simple improvements at no cost. First, we created three new circulation stations.
In the past, the computers dedicated to checking the library's catalog were always along the south wall of the library. The stations looked nice, but they were inconvenient. Students had to sit down, log on, and then find the right website. Regardless of how often I did mini-lessons the reality was that students rarely used the online catalog.
And then an idea...
What if I took one of the computers and created a stand-alone station? Then the computer would be eye level and the library's catalog is already loaded. We thought the idea had potential, but were unprepared for the student response.
Our pilot station was directly over the book return. Since the book return is right by the entrance I figured students wouldn't miss the change. I was right. With little prompting a line formed to use the catalog. Could it really be this simple? I could hardly contain my excitement!
So we created another station near the circulation desk. This time I paired the move with book talks and a mini-lesson on how students could use the catalog to put books on hold. The lines at both computers told me this was no accident. In two days the catalog had gotten more use by students than the entire year before (and that's probably no exaggeration).
Flush with our success we dismantled the wall of computers (which only had one working computer left anyway) and put up our third station. Students (and staff) couldn't be happier. I have more time to do reader's advisory and checkout goes faster because Ms. Green doesn't have to put books on hold. In fact even teachers noticed the change. Yesterday Ms. Morris mentioned how much she liked the improvement, "It's something so simple but so effective!"
Since we were in the spirit of improvement I tried another cheap fix. We have a whole class set of computers in the library now, which I love.
My only complaint was the monitors hindered my ability to see the students while I was teaching. Some of my 6th graders couldn't see over the screens! My first fix was just having students lay the monitors face down while I was instructing. This was a huge improvement, but a recipe for disaster. I knew it was only a matter of time before something terrible happened to our flat screens.
Instead we tried a configuration...
We moved the monitors to the side of the computer instead of having them on top. The few inches made a world of difference. We even tried it out on a student and she could see me and the SMART Board from the back row.
Now students can see me when I'm instructing, I can see them when I'm teaching and they have a new sense of independence when they use the catalog to search for and hold items. That's a good day's work. Now if only all of my problems were so quickly remedied.
My first year at Jefferson I had the most spectacular practicum student, Amy, from GSLIS. While she was here we got into a discussion about how best to advertise the book that I was currently reading. She created my: A.T.M--What I'm reading At The Moment. It has been a hit for five years (kids are only mildly disappointed when they learn money will never shoot out). This year I expanded my impulse checkout display. In spite of the success of my A.T.M, I always felt that it was a bit limiting. What about books that I just like or want kids to try? So this year I created my REC--What I RECommend every student read. And you know what? It's another keeper. They sit side-by-side right at the circulation desk just begging to be grabbed by one of our students.
Yesterday in the library I had a chance to booktalk a number of this year's Golden Jaguar nominees to a group of 8th grade students. While I was talking I mentioned how excited I get as a reader when I stumble across a book that has a fresh plot (to me). A couple of books came mind.
The first book, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zavin, is one of this year's GJ nominees. It is a circle-of-life story turned inside out. Liz, the story's main character, dies almost immediately (no spoiler here) and finds herself in an afterlife called Elsewhere. As a reader my imagination was sparked by the notion of being reunited with loved ones, and then the catch is revealed. People in Elsewhere age in reverse until they become infants and are reborn in this world. What the!? My mind was spinning at all of the complications this would create. I could hardly wait to finish reading so I could start talking it up to my students.
The second book, A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz, is a melodrama that stars an orphan (so typical) and the swindling, seance old biddies that adopt her. Hello! I couldn't stop giggling at the depiction of these old women who bring this little girl home only so she can "play" the ghost they bring back to life at their staged events. Talk about a unique storylines! I can always get excited about talking books with students, but some authors sure make it easier than others.
Welcome to the JMS Library blog. I'm excited to use this forum to highlight the activities taking place in the library. On this blog I will talk about books, reading, activities, websites, and all things library. Talk with you soon!