Despite its name, the Elementary Library Routines wiki is a great resource for librarians working at all levels. Created by Keisa Williams (CA), Catherine Trinkle (IN), Regina Hartley (OK) and Jamie Camp (TX), this wiki is a place where librarians from all over the US share ways that they are doing things in their libraries. Although the focus is on elementary, many of these ideas could be adapted for use with older students. There are sections for routines, administration, curriculum, and promotion, as well as funny things that have happened in the library. The next time you are trying to re-invent the wheel and come up with a better way to do something, check it out.
Over the past year, there has been a lot of talk in school library circles about the best ways to provide books in digital format for students. In the Mesquite Independent School District, we’d been following with interest news stories of schools like Cushing Academy, where the majority of the print books were replaced with eBooks. This past summer when Amazon reported that eBooks had outsold hardcover books, it was clear that this was no flash in the pan, but an indicator that eBooks were now becoming mainstream.
Our library listservs are now full of conversation trying to figure out how to offer eBooks for students. Some schools have chosen to purchase sets of eReaders and pre-load content on them for circulation. Others are subscribing to eBook content though various vendors and allowing students to access them via computer. In Mesquite ISD, we opted to take theOverDrive approach, which gives our users 24/7 access to a digital library of approximately 4,000 eBooks and audiobooks via their own desktop/laptop computers, smartphones, eBook readers, and mp3 players.
Mesquite ISD is in a suburb of Dallas and has an enrollment of about 37,000 students. Each of our 44 campuses has a certified librarian who teaches information and technology skills using library resources. We believe that the 21st century library is about learning. Since reading is a fundamental skill for learning, we want to provide reading materials in every format that is available for our students.
As we began researching the best way to deliver eBooks, we found it was helpful to think of digital books in the same way that we think of other non-print formats. Libraries have been circulating VHS tapes, DVDs, cassettes, etc. for years, but not the equipment on which to play the content. We decided that we would follow this same model for delivery of digital content to our students, teachers, and parents.
On November 1, we were proud to launch the Mesquite ISD Digital Library in partnership with OverDrive, and proud to be the first school district in North Texas to offer such a service. Our library features material for students in grades K-12. The collection was selected by district librarians – one for each level (elementary, middle school and high school). While the focus of this collection is on pleasure reading, there is also a selection of professional titles available as well.
We were able to connect the Digital Library with our library management system so that every student and district employee has an account. Parents who would like an account can request one from their school librarian.
At the district level, we have promoted the Digital Library with our principals’ group, district PTA leaders, and Curriculum Council. Campus librarians have done demonstrations of the service for faculty, staff and students. Although more and more of our users have mobile devices and are interested in taking their books “to go”, we emphasize that this is not a requirement for using the Digital Library. All of the eBooks and audiobooks can be downloaded and enjoyed on a desktop or laptop computer. We were even able to have OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile in the district right before the Winter Break. Over 400 students and teachers came through to learn about the Digital Library and how to use it.
All of our promotion seems to be working – we’ve had over 5,000 checkouts since the beginning of November. The digital library is a definite hit with Mesquite ISD library users!
Originally published on the Digitallibrary blog, January 26, 2011.
“School Libraries – A Right is a statement from CILIP, issued in February 2011, on the role and value of school libraries. It sets out the core entitlements that every child, school’s teaching team and wider school community should expect to receive. It provides the case for a properly resourced, professionally staffed school library.”
Extract from the School Libraries – A Right:
“We believe that throughout their education every child is entitled to:
- A safe and secure library environment
- Support from library staff with extensive knowledge, enthusiasm and experience
- A skilled library practitioner with responsibility and time to help children manage today’s information overload”
Read the full statement here (1 page PDF)
The state of Texas has a budget deficit in the billions. Schools and library programs will be cut, which means people will suffer. Both institutions are about transforming lives through information. This great video says it better than I ever could…
See more library promotional videos here.
Librarians are such a modest group. There are fantastic learning experiences and programs that take place in school libraries every day, but no one knows about them. I know we were all taught that it isn’t polite to brag on ourselves, but there is a professional way to go about it: a monthly report.
In a recent blog post over at Informania, Fran Bullington writes:
How do you keep your program front and center in the eyes of your school community? Many school librarians create and share monthly statistics reports with their principals. But should we stop there? Why not post these reports for the entire school community?
She goes on, linking to several stellar library reports by librarians around the country and vowing to upgrade her own reports in the process. Take a look at these examples - it will be well worth your time.
Librarians in my district create monthly or six weeks reports in all kinds of different ways. You are really only limited by your creativity, but a report should include photos of students in the library along with stats and some information about the teaching that you are doing.
One of our high school librarians is experimenting with reporting via web 2.0 tools. For the first six weeks this year, she created her report on Glogster. She plans to use a different web 2.0 tool each six weeks.
This year I have started compiling a six weeks report for the district from information submitted by the campus librarians. The first one is posted on our library services wiki.
Monthly reports are a great way to let people know how the library is being used. If you aren’t doing one, I encourage you to start.
If you’re already doing a monthly report, post it online for everyone to see!
Thou shall take thy light out from under thy damn bushel and share with others all the wonders thou dost perform.
Go forth and SHARE!
School Library Journal has a great article this month – What Every New Media Specialist Needs to Know: These 10 Tips Can Help Your Career Get Off to a Great Start.
While these are great tips for “baby” librarians, they are also great reminders for those of us who have been at it awhile. Click the link for the full article, but here are the tips!
1. Learn the curriculum.
2. Document! Document! Document!
3. Smile and say, “Yes!”
4. Stick with positive people.
5. Make “resource” your middle name.
6. Listen to your customers.
7. Lend a helping hand.
9. Turn trash into treasure.
10. Be Switzerland.
It’s the beginning of the school year and librarians everywhere are providing orientation sessions that will teach students and staff library procedures. It’s also a great time to take a look at what didn’t work last year and make changes.
In our district, we are trying to encourage a more flexible approach to book circulation – especially at the elementary level. Although our elementary schools don’t have totally fixed schedules where students are dropped off at the library to cover a teacher’s conference period, many schools have a fixed checkout time for teachers to bring their whole class to the library each week for book exchange. It is difficult to change a paradigm, but this year several librarians are making an effort to do away with the once a week checkout and institute individual checkout for students at point of need.
With no clerical help in the library to man the circulation desk, this can feel like a daunting task, but I believe it can be done if we allow students and teachers to check out their own materials.
Think about implementing self-service in your library. I think you will be happy that you did!
This is a great video that really describes what a 21st century librarian does. It’s not just books anymore!
(via The Blue Skunk Blog)
Last week the New York Times Room for Debate blog posted a series of brief editorials on the question of whether we need to continue maintaining traditional book-filled school libraries. In the wake of news earlier this year about Cushing Academy and its bookless library, this is a very valid question and one that we will have to explore more and more.
Here are short summaries of each editorial. Click on the author’s name to read each posting in its entirety.
James Tracy, headmaster at Cushing, sees the school library evolving into a learning commons where students and faculty “gather, learn and explore together.” Cushing’s library contains books of all formats, print and digital. Most interesting is Tracy’s comment that students who have access to overwhelming amounts of information online “need more help from librarians to navigate these resources” and his remark that they “have also increased … library staff by 25 percent.”
Matthew Kirschenbaum, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, believes that students do continue to need printed books. He says that “books and libraries are working (or living) models of knowledge formation. We need them for the same reason we need models of atoms and airplanes. They are hands-on. They are immersive. Holding a book in our hands, we orient ourselves within a larger system.”
Liz Gray, library director at the Dana Hall School, wrote about the need for school libraries to embrace new technologies without while still holding on to the things that continue to work well. She says, “We don’t have to choose between technology and printed books, and we shouldn’t.”
Nicholas Carr, author of the upcoming book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, believes that the medium in which we choose to read does make a difference. He writes, “As an informational medium, the book focuses our attention, encouraging the kind of immersion in a story or an argument that promotes deep comprehension and deep learning.” His belief is that online reading with all its distractions does not lend itself to focused understanding of text.
William Powers, author, also believes that using new tools doesn’t require that we throw out the old ones. He points out that “old technologies often handily survive the introduction of new ones, and sometimes become useful in entirely new ways.”
Back in September, Cushing Academy in Massachusetts made the news by announcing that they were removing all of the books from the library in order to make room for digital information sources. This move prompted librarians and education bloggers around the country to write and wonder about the place that print resources have in a 21st century library. A great response came from Brian Kenney, editor of School Library Journal, in his editorial from the October issue.
In this month’s issue of Teacher Librarian though, David Loertscher puts it all in perspective with this list:
Ten Things Worse Than a Library Without Books:
1. A library without a credentialed teacher-librarian.
2. A library without information in the format users prefer.
3. A library that restricts access to information in any format.
4. A library that most teachers ignore.
5. A library that most students Google around.
6. A teacher-librarian who is afraid of, or ignores the impact of technology.
7. A library that only deals in print materials.
8. A library of antiquated computers and computer networks.
9. A library where tech directors have a big sign behind their desks reading: Just say NO!
10. An empty library.
He makes a great point – what’s the point of having a library (with or without books) at all, if students and teachers aren’t using it?
In a time when information is plentiful and easy to get, users have to believe that coming to the library adds value to their information experience or they will get what they need elsewhere. What are you doing to add value to your students’ and teachers’ experiences in the library?