I am preparing to start a research unit with my students in the next few weeks, and it is always critical for me to work with the school librarian when we get started. I had the opportunity to visit with our librarian to discuss options for using Kentucky Virtual Library and, of course, the collection within the library. Students spend several days finding information for their research and our librarian stresses the various ways in which they can search. I quickly learned that librarians are a sort of human thesaurus when it comes to Internet and database searches. Students become quickly frustrated when their initial search doesn’t result in the information they need, so knowing how to search the Internet and databases is an essential part of the school librarian’s job.
Our librarian is also in charge of the computer lab scheduler. We have an electronic system at our school that allows teachers to book a computer lab months in advance, including the computer lab in the library. I’ve learned how critical it is to be able to use the library lab because it has access to the librarian! When I saw that the library lab was booked when I need it for doing research with my class, I thought, “How am I going to do this without the librarian?!” I met with her so that she could go over all that I needed to know in order to do research outside of the library.
This week I was able to work at my high school library during my planning periods and before and after school. I was also able to visit the library at Marshall County High School when I went there for an academic coaches’ meeting and training. Both libraries are similar, although the MCHS library is much bigger than Mayfield High School’s library. I was noticing the things the libraries have that my high school library did not have. Both have round tables at which the students can work, either alone or in groups. Both have overhead projectors and screens. This is to accommodate the teaching that goes on in libraries today. Of course, both libraries have computer stations to assist students and teachers and librarians to access information. The set ups seemed to encourage students to stay in the library for a period, whereas I just went into the library to check out books when I was in school. In Empowering Learners, it is stated that “the school librarian must work to create an environment where everyone is a teacher, learner, producer, and contributor” (10). I felt that both of these libraries were set up so that that environment was created.
My classroom is located right off the library at Mayfield. Since we don’t have doors to our classes (Ugh!!), my room is basically an extension of the library. Most afternoons after school, students can be found working at the tables in the library on various projects. Since I am handy, the students come to borrow markers, scissors, and tape regularly. Mrs. Schorr has mentioned the need in our school for student access to some of these materials. She told me of some of the libraries she had seen that have a space with those materials commonly needed for posters, etc. This would be seen in the learning centers we studied in the last lesson. Since many of our students are from low income households, being able to use art materials at the school would meet a need for our students. Setting up this zone is a project I am contemplating for the future.
After finally working through all of the issues that I have been dealing with, I finally got to do some observations. Today I went back to my old high school and spent the day with my old librarian. It was a lot of fun getting back to my old school. I loved seeing all of the changes that have occurred since I was there. They have begun to implement a “mobile computer lab” program. Watching how this works is really interesting. I also had the privilege of helping the librarian catalogue some new books that had just arrived. I look forward to learning even more!
Just when I thought I just about had the library figured out at North, we finished processing our new books and added those to the shelves. Right now we have all/ most of the new books on our new read bookshelf, but eventually those will make their way to their permanent homes on the shelves. With that being said, we/ our librarian have some big decisions to make. This week we discussed a new push in library media: shelving your books (especially at the elementary level) by interest/ topic. This would mean a total overhaul for our library, but would be much more appealing for young readers and would allow our students to find books in their subject area of choice much more easily. We discussed the drawbacks as well as the positives of such a move. For right now we are going to continue to shelve as we always have, but not to say a drastic move isn’t coming in the near future. One of my newest jobs is to redo shelf tags to help our youngest readers find
It’s been another great week in the library at NCE. We have worked hard to help kiddos make it closer and closer to their AR goals. It’s amazing how full the library is the now that we are in the last week of the nine week period. I am loving getting to see kiddos become hooked on new books and series. We almost had a throw down this week between two fifth grade girls because they both grabbed the same book at the same time. We closed the library yesterday morning to students so that the students would all be on time to the gym for a test score celebration. I never knew closing the library before school could upset so many kiddos! I am loving all that I am learning and being able to see and meet new kiddos and what they are interested in. The countdown has begun… 3 weeks until the book fair. Let the real craziness begin!
Observation of Public Library
After work one day, I went to visit the local library. They were having an event for students thought the fifth grade. When I got there they were engaged in a story about Legos. They sat around the reader on the carpet and listened. She add character voices and read with enthusiasm. The kids loved it; I loved it, and caught myself interested in the story.
Once the story was finished the kids were able to try to make the things that they saw in the story. It was a contest to see who could build the tallest tower, and the best airplane. They were having so much fun with the Legos, that the time went by super fast. There were parents helping their children and children working together. It was all around a positive experience.
I have actually been dealing with some issues in observing. Over the summer I had talked to a librarian and asked her if she would be my supervisor throughout this process and she happily agreed to do it. However, after having worked 8 hours with her one day, we found out that there was actually a very long process involved in doing this according to her school system’s regulations. Neither of us knew of this prior to the observation that I had previously done. So now I am working on switching everything around and getting started again. Both of us decided it would just be easier for me to do my observations in my hometown rather than going through the long process of applying and being placed (sometimes the placement can take months). Tomorrow I am observing at my old high school, which should be fun! I look forward to finally getting everything sorted out so that I can enjoy the observations.
This week I have enjoyed getting to observe our library in action. I have been able to see fourth grade classes in the library during the specials rotation time. During the classes that I observed, students were able to browse the library, take AR tests, do research, and check out books. I enjoyed talking with the students and seeing which books and genres they were drawn to and what they ended up choosing to check out for the week. The excitement that so many of them would have in their eyes and on their faces when they made the perfect selection was so enjoyable. They were excited to share with me and the librarian what they had chosen and why. It was very interesting to see the variety of activities that take place in that one hour that fourth grade was in the library. During that one hour the librarian served in many roles. She helped students learn how to search for a particular book, how to locate books on the shelves, monitored AR, checked in and out books, and monitored behavior. It is very impressive to see the life of the library and our librarian. I feel as though I have only seen the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to the library and all the librarian does to make it a successful place.
During my first week of field experience I began getting to know our school library. The librarian and I discussed the mission and vision of our library, the district standards/expectations.etc. She shared with me about her past experiences of being a librarian at different schools. We also discussed several upcoming events in the library that I plan to assist her with. We have a family night , book fair, and some other special events that I look forward to participating in with our librarian and students. I have enjoyed getting to know more about the behind the scenes work of the library.
For the last few weeks I have been observing several librarians. I have observed on all three levels. At the elementary school, I observed Mrs. Dobrose. On the middle school level, I observed a substitute for the librarian, but she was the librarian who had retired from there before Mrs. Smith came. On the high school level, I observed Mrs. Schorr. All the librarians were so effective on their individual levels.
The elementary librarian knew all the kids’ names and had short conversations with each of the kids. You could tell she has an ongoing relationship with her students. I also observed one of her helpers reading a story to one of the classes. She commented on the story as she went, and generally encouraged a love of reading. It seemed the children felt at home and valued in this library.
The middle school librarian didn’t know the kids since she was a substitute, but she was teaching them about guide words and how to obtain information from books. They worked together, and she went from group to group. She was equipping them in “transferable skills.”
The high school librarian knew the students who frequented the library and information about their reading preferences. She commented on a new book that was a prequel to a series she knew a student was reading. She seemed to have the most diverse role, perhaps because she is in high school where more opportunities are available. She is the academic team’s varsity coach, so she knows the students. Today in our PLC, she gave a report to the English teachers about our writing program’s review. She also gave us some new links she had found that she thought might introduce us to new strategies. That reminded me of the statement in one of our lessons that said, “Schools are freeing them [librarians] to help students, faculty, and principals find the information they need” (Scholastic.com). I feel so fortunate to have such good mentors and plan to continue learning all I can from them.