I was able to visit the RES Library this past Monday, November 23. The librarian has decorated her library in bright colors and it is extremely inviting for young children. This library serves kindergarten students through third grade students. It is spacious and tables were grouped in arrangements of four. A brightly colored rug map of the world covered the center area of the library. Mrs. Dismukes, the librarian, had put up a beautiful Christmas tree and she had placed Christmas lights around the library. My job is to check students out and shelve books while she works with the RTI students. Last Monday, she was helping other teachers finish painting a brightly colored mural of a city and neighborhood skyline. I will be returning to her library this Monday, November 30, 2015 as I wind down my observation hours. I plan on taking pictures of her library because I really liked the atmosphere she has created for her students.
I have enjoyed my 50 hours of work/observation in the library. It has confirmed that I am in the right area. I found the public library enjoyable. They had several different activities that I could see and help with. My time at the middle and high school was eye opening. I know I am more suited for the elementary aged students. They are eager to learn and always ready to go! I love that about them. The library in my school allowed me to do a lot of reading with small groups. I was able to let them read to me and read with them. The students really seemed to enjoy this part of it too. They would smile when they saw me come in and see them.
I am happy to be finished with this and ready to finish the last projects. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving Break!
Today, I finished my last 2 hours up at the high school. The librarian is the same that works at the middle school and I have noticed more than once that she doesn’t have time to take care of the library the way she wants to. She is responsible for two different libraries. She spends half of her time at the middle school and the other half at the high school.
The students worked mostly on finishing up projects for classes before they went on Thanksgiving Break. She told me that this wasn’t a normal day but I believe it is good to see those days too. One of the first things I learned when I started teaching was to go with the flow of things. It is nice to see that you have to do that while working as a librarian too.
This week I observed at an elementary school, and the librarian showed me some of the procedures she has implemented. This librarian is not always at the desk to check out books because her schedule rotates, so she has a basket in which students can leave books that they want to check out. Those students can come back later in the day and check out the book when the librarian has returned. This procedure helps the students because they don’t have to go back to the shelf to search for their books again. I observed students using this procedure seamlessly, and it seemed to work well.
The librarian also told me about the library aids that she has each day. These aids are tremendously helpful with reshelving books. On the day I was at the library, there were probably close to 100 books that needed to be shelved. The librarian stressed that she has to set her priorities each day because each task that she has can easily take up most of her time. Therefore, the aids come in extremely handy with these tasks. She said she also asks some of the responsible 5th graders to come in and help shelve books as well.
I also asked her opinion on makerspaces since this is what I plan to research, and she was very excited about them. She said she would love to build a makerspace in her library, but her biggest challenge is a lack of physical space. She talked to me about the importance of the layout of libraries in order to incorporate 21st century skills.
It has been an interesting journey since the beginning of the school year trying to figure out how to balance student use of materials and shelving considerations. I felt, in the beginning, that I would have to have every book in order at all times. I quickly realized that I had to choose between books being accessible on the shelves (maybe not in perfect order) or books piled on a cart. So far, I had chosen to keep the books on the shelves by utilizing a morning parent volunteer and student library assistants. However, things are getting crazy. As the school year progresses, schedules are interrupted, and students are checking out and returning more materials, it has been hard to keep things organized and I currently want to shut down circulation and reorganize all of the shelves. I am, of course, not going to do that but I am reconsidering some of my student procedures and what new changes I may implement after Christmas break. There’s a fine line between knowing things will never remain in perfect order in an elementary library and absolute chaos. I feel I’m straddling the line at the moment!
Today I was able to leave my class of students during activity period to attend the student book club. Two boys have actually joined now, although neither was there today. Two weeks ago the students discussed the book, Orphan Train, that they had all finished reading. Today, our librarian had copies of the Kentucky Bluegrass books, and the students were able to select one to read over the holidays. After Thanksgiving, they will meet again to get a copy of the book they will all read to discuss later. Mrs. Schorr had Little Debbie treats for them to eat, so they were all very content. The students discussed the pros and cons of reading on devices and reading the written text. I was so surprised to hear that most of them preferred hard back books. I don’t know if the socioeconomics of our school’s students influence that or not. I was able to ask each of them if they had a parent or parents who were readers. Everyone of the twelve girls there had at least one parent who reads for pleasure. I was not surprised to hear that, since it makes sense. I heard (on the radio) a report from pediatricians that said that they advise parents to give their children an iPad over reading to them because it stimulates more of their senses. I was amazed. It seems that the long term pleasure readers came from people who read and who read to them, though.
Today I finished my final hours of observations for this semester. It was a really slow day in the library, but I did find some things to work on. I helped the library pass out the overdo book slips to students that needed them, and I also helped make some new printing slips for the teachers to send down with their copies. I have really enjoyed these observations and I look forward to doing more.
I had the opportunity to observe and to help at the high school again today. The librarian has created neat covers for new books on CD. I helped add the labels to the covers telling students to see the librarian for how to download these books on to their phones or iPads. I also shelved books and now I think I know my way around the library pretty well. The MCHS has quite a large selection of graphic novels and I also found it interesting that the library also contained many of the titles we currently have housed in our middle school library. Some of my favorite authors such as Rick Riordan and Gordon Korman were in the MCHS library. I also noticed the large number of class novel sets that were in the library. Ms. Grief, the librarian, told me that they were able to store the teachers’ novel sets on their shelves because the teachers did not have space to do so in their rooms. The teacher book sets had sign out sheets teachers used to check out these collections. Many of the sets were classics such as The Great Gatsby or The Crucible. I observed different groups of students studying together,visiting, using computers, or listening to music. A couple of students were being tutored by teachers and one student was helping out in the library.
In the last couple of weeks, I have gotten to spend more time in the library at my school. One week our librarian was absent three days, so I spent time between every class, during my planning period, and after school in the library. I even had two different teachers come to my class to get me to help students who needed to check in or out books. I guess they’ve just seen me there so much, they think it’s part of my job! =D
Recently I learned how to add new students to the system. Many of the new students are students from Guatemala. These kids speak very little to no English. I have found that speaking at least some Spanish has helped me quite a bit. They seem very pleased that I can communicate with them to a limited extent. We have some Spanish translations in the library. Even though we want the students to become fluent in English, it doesn’t happen immediately, so I am glad they can continue reading in Spanish while they learn English.
I have been surprised how quickly I have begun to know the kinds of books the frequent readers like to check out. It helps that since I have been at the school four years teaching all the freshmen, I know all the students at the school except those who have come since I had that group. When I am a full time librarian, I will have to come up with ways to get to know the students since I will no longer have them in English class.
Today was a fun but tough day in the library. I was at my usual school working in my old high school library. The librarian asked me to go through and weed out some of the old books in the NF section. This was fun but strangely hard for me. It was sad to look at books and question whether they were needed any longer or if they would likely be used. After going through the shelves, I managed to choose roughly 50 books to weed out; the majority of these books had damage of some sort. After the librarian looked over my chosen books and said that she agreed with my choices, we marked them out of circulation in the computers. Luckily, the books are still going to be put to use. I ended up taking the books to the Art teacher and she said they would definitely be used. Lately the children have been making the folded book art sculptures and these books would be used for that and whatever was left would be used for other projects.
It turns out my love of books makes getting rid of them, even if they are out of date or in poor condition, really tough. It was nice to push myself and to be able to help out the Art teacher!