Sunday, September 18, 2011

Be There or Be Square

Did you know that this year's NCSLMA conference is fast approaching? Actually, it is a month earlier this year and it would be terrible if you missed out on this great experience, so be sure to visit the website and register. There are only 18 more days until this year's conference kicks off. I look forward to this conference every year because of the great opportunities it provides for me to discuss my profession and what others in NC are doing to promote and advocate their programs. This year, however, I am extra excited for a number of reasons. First, it was planned by my friend (and college roommate) Sarah Justice. Second, I am presenting a preconference session with Jennifer LaGarde (I am so not worthy). Third, I am presenting a concurrent session with my friend and former partner in crime, Jennifer Abel (now on Twitter, so be sure to follow @abellibrarian). Fourth, there are some great authors to stalk!

Those are my personal reasons for being super-excited about this year's conference, but there are many professional reasons to be excited as well. Reasons that I hope make you find a way to attend this year's conference some way, some how. You have likely noticed that this year's conference dates are a little bit different. What is great about this is that you can use this to help convince your administrator to let you attend. You will only need a sub for Friday since concurrent sessions take place Friday and Saturday. If you have not checked out the conference sessions, these are all available on the website as well. Check out all the great sessions from which you can steal ideas to implement into your own Media Center.

One of the biggest draws for this conference is Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian. If you are not familiar with Gwyneth, who is also our conference keynote speaker, you are in for a real treat. I attended one of her sessions at AASL 2009 and have been a devoted follower ever since. I read her blogs and follow her on Twitter. To be perfectly honest I wonder when she sleeps. In addition to being the keynote speaker, she will also be the presenter for not one, not two, but three concurrent sessions. So I ask you, what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

Ok, as if Gwyneth Jones was not enough of a reason to attend this year's NCSLMA conference, there are also some amazing authors attending this year's conference. Friday's Luncheon Author is Jennifer Pharr Davis, local Hendersonville girl, who recently accomplished the amazing feat of being the overall speed record holder on the Appalachian Trail. Sarah and I saw Jennifer speak at a local bookstore last year and were overwhelmed with her stories about the AT. I was so amazed by what she endured on her first hike of the AT and cannot believe she has taken on this journey more than once. The author luncheon on Saturday features Frances O'Roark Dowell. I absolutely adore Frances. She was the first author I ever had visit my school and she was awesome. After that I was hooked on author visits. The Toast and Tales author, Allan Wolf, has also been a visitor to my school. I have never been more entertained throughout one day. His energy is contagious.   Alan Gratz, another featured author at my school, will also be in attendance at this year's conference. Be sure to visit him during his concurrent session. One author who I have not had the pleasure of meeting, Tom Angleberger (yes, he did write Origami Yoda), will also be in attendance. Looking forward to meeting him as well as several of the other authors that will be involved with the Author Autograph Session.

Look forward to seeing you in Winston-Salem, so sign-up today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jennifer LaGarde, this is for you....

So, recently on Facebook Jennifer LaGarde mentioned how she was considering rearranging her Media Center by genre. In turn, I encouraged her to do so as it was one of the best things I have ever done, that is after I recovered from the shock that I had actually done something before her. She then responded that I should write a blog entry about it, so here it is.

It actually all started on a car ride to Charlotte for the 2009 AASL Conference. My friend Sarah and I were discussing the concept of genre arrangement, and I indicated I just could not bring myself to actually do it until I knew someone who had done it. Well, I was surprised to learn that Sarah had rearranged her fiction by genre. After an extended amount of brain picking, I knew I was ready to undertake this challenge. Sarah's guidance was definitely very helpful, but I ended up tackling it in a little bit different way than she had done. I think anyone who undertakes this project really needs to find their own method.

I started by determining which sections I would have. The sections I determined would best fit our school were Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction (this is the catch-all for everything else), Classics, Mystery, Sports, Science Fiction. Romance is really chick lit, but I just did not think I could call a section by that title. Books in this section deal with romance and friendships. Most of these sections really seem to meet our needs, but if I could go back I might add a section dedicated to humor.

After doing this, I ordered genre label stickers. The goal was to get all fiction books labeled with a genre sticker on the front cover for quick identification. As books were turned in, we placed genre labels on them to make dividing them up easier and it helps with reshelving now. During this time, I also started going through the fiction section starting with the As and placing these labels on the front. At the same time I was weeding and pulling fantasy books. Weeding during this time was massive. I got rid of a large number of books that were unused, hideous, etc. It was not safe to walk in the Media Center as I had big piles of books in the floor as I went. Wish I had taken pictures. I was throwing books into stacks as fast as I was pulling Fantasy. By pulling Fantasy first, I was clearing out our largest genre of books from the existing Fiction section, making everything else much more manageable.

Now I have to be honest, moving everything was time-consuming and some sections had to be relocated as I misjudged how large or small a group might be. However, this was the easy part. I changed all the spine labels on the books in each section and in the catalog and that process took an eternity. I had definitely lost the mojo and just had to fight through to finish that part of the project. Some of the schools in my county made this change after I did, but they elected not to change spine labels. Lesson that I learned during this part of the process--be sure to just add the prefix for the genre, do not delete the F for fiction. For analysis in programs like Titlewise having that F was critical. You can strip the genre prefix in Titlewise. I am so thankful I had a conversation with my Follett rep before I got too far into this part of the process. Changing the spine label was important to me to make sure items were reshelved appropriately. It is the most tedious part of the process, but well worth it to me.

Now that I have rearranged I can easily answer those students who ask "Where are the mysteries?". This also gave me a better idea of what students were reading and where I needed to add to my collection. My Romance section was small and I was able to build it up somewhat last year to provide more options for my girls. This collection still needs to be added to as most of the books stay checked out. At the start of this year I did experience something new with that section. One class of sixth graders had several boys that asked me for romance books. Believe it or not all those who asked actually checked out a book. I think they may have discovered they needed a little guidance in the love department. Fantasy also has a high volume of usage. Adventure does not get the attention it deserves, but at least I know what my students want. This has impacted what I purchase and feedback from students was very positive.

For those of you who have been thinking about this, I encourage you to take the plunge. For me this was incredibly worthwhile and beneficial for my students.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book Blast

Well, like so many others I am having to learn to do more with less. First, teacher assistants were cut on all but two workdays prior to the start of school. My assistant was actually only with me one day during this time because of her mandatory attendance at a day long training for EC bus riders. That's right, she is being expected to ride the EC bus on a daily basis. This is a three hour ride that begins at 5:30 in the morning and is considered part of her 8 hour day. Of course, this means she is only in the library for 5 hours on a daily basis. This has really changed how we operate, but we are adapting. At my school, I operate as not only Media Coordinator, but Technology Facilitator and technician as well. While I cannot fix everything, I am the first stop for all technology troubleshooting. The most important concern for me in the midst of all of this change is making sure to maintain the instructional part of my program. Needless to say, the beginning of the year has already been incredibly tiring. So far this blog entry sounds like I just want to complain, but actually it is the exact opposite. I just felt you needed a picture of "a day in the life" especially since my Book Blast took priority over many of those other daily tasks. It is about reshaping priorities.

I recently read a blog entry on Shelf Consumed called It's a blast. It really made me think about how we could get books into the hands of our students faster. We had our own Book Blast which I think was a real success. All but one of our Language Arts teachers signed up, so we saw 35 classes this past week for 10 minute increments. Almost all of our classes were able to finish in 10 minutes, and I was able to connect with a large number of students by helping them find a book, making reading suggestions, etc. It was great. Not surprisingly, the classes that were not in and out within 10 minutes were the classes that my assistant was not available for. Those classes proved very difficult for me to help students and check them out in 10 minutes. I built on the idea from Shelf Consumed and made the event a lot of fun. We played party dance music during each class session. It was interesting to see kids bee-bopping (is that how you spell that?) to the music while browsing the stacks. I also gave away prizes. After students had checked out everyone was instructed to turn to p. 21 and if they had a pink or purple sticky note, they won a prize. I have some pens with our school name and a quote about reading. Teacher feedback was very positive and I am filing away this idea for the future.