Tag Archives: collaboration

Statistics Prove Relevance of the Library

A question from my administration, briefly and poorly answered in the rush of ‘clean-up day’ has led me to take a closer look at our circulation statistics. Rather than giving a realistic impression of our library usage, I inexplicably ended up promoting our fantastic partnership with the local public library! Thinking on my feet, especially when my mind is overflowing with unrelated details, is not one of my talents.

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Wade M from San Francisco, USA

The question was about reference materials, by which I believe was meant nonfiction in general in this age of the Internet.

Yes, reference material is truly a thing of the past in its traditional form and a few attractive volumes decorate the unreachable shelves in the library. When it comes to nonfiction in general, it’s true that many topics have been superseded by online resources. However, there are still a great many areas that are relevant and well used. A quick look at this year’s circulation stats and anecdotal evidence show that, with careful collection development, we are still in the business of promoting reading for pleasure and information.

In my K-12 school of under 200 students, 6,802 books were checked out from the student collections in our library this year.

  • 2,963 were from Easy Street – picture books and primary nonfiction – both as student loans and classroom themes.
  • Readers among our young adults, Grade 7 and up, checked out 496 books from the YA section, (which is a gratifyingly significant number this year).
  • 20927056The top Island for Grades 3 & up is Arts & Entertainment, with 975 graphic novels, craft, drawing, sports, cartoons, joke books and ‘game’ books like Guinness World records and computer gaming books being the most popular in the library.
  • Accelerated Readers accounted for the next biggest section, mostly as required but often as free choices.
  • 490 books went out of the Fantasy section, mostly fantasy fiction as well as ghost stories and nonfiction about ‘the unexplained’.
  • Nature nonfiction accounted for 375 books.
  • Realistic fiction along with Modern Life nonfiction  (health, domestic arts, etc.) was at 271.
  • In Canada and the World, which includes the Indigenous collection, loans totalled 163, (and may have been more, but some teachers do not allow their disappointed young students to check out books on war).
  • Science and technology is a small collection as it’s very difficult to keep it up to date, but 131 nonfiction books were still checked out from it, which includes sky science, building, vehicles, evidence & investigation, etc.

Elementary classes love books. Up to Grade 6, virtually every student checks out books every week. Fiction and nonfiction are equally popular. By junior high, they are more selective and by grade 9, only about twenty percent of them check out books. I don’t see the high school students regularly and only a few continue to borrow books.

It is always a challenge to keep the collection up to date and to anticipate demand, and there are areas of nonfiction that are I no longer collect. Anything that is quickly outdated and is more likely to be ‘Googled’ is no longer purchased. For unanticipated or rare requests, I use interlibrary loan or direct students to the public library.

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There is still a need, however, for as much as we can practically purchase and shelve. In the classroom, teachers appreciate supplementary materials for curriculum units from The Needs of Plants and Animals in Grade 1, to Sky Science in Grade 6 and the Aztecs in Grade 8. Provincial directives have recently lead me to analyse and develop the collection for diversity. Character development is another perennial topic.

It’s also still important for students to be given the opportunity for discovery among as wide as possible a variety of materials. Browsing, a skill I promote, can open up doors that students never knew existed. A few from many possible examples will illustrate this.

  • There’s Billy, who discovered dictionaries this year – not just the standard dictionary, but the math dictionary and the science dictionary as well.
  • From a book I read in library class, Riki got a hankering to read up on Indigenous people and checked out picture books and Easy nonfiction, then graduated to legends, general nonfiction and a novel, Sweetgrass.
  • Several students monopolized the survival books and supplemented their learning of skills with survival fiction.
  • Cameron has read everything I can find around Greek mythology, nonfiction and fiction.

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We all know that children have an innate sense of curiosity, a natural thirst for knowledge,  the wonder at and obsorption of which is at its most powerful when the discovery is made on their own.

I wholeheartedly believe that students need to become comfortable with the public library for potential supplementary and summer reading, and life-long learning. We have a very effective partnership with our local public library, which is doing a fantastic job of getting the kids in the door. Through local sponsorship, all of our students and staff get public library memberships, through which we are able to direct our students to online resources including ebooks and audiobooks.

However, it’s clear that our school library is still providing the primary resource for reading and the discovery of new interests, especially since a large majority of our students are spending so much of their free time at home on digital devices. Our collection, while necessarily changing, is still relevant and important.

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Filed under Education, Library Management, Reading

Sharing Knowledge

When I think of the number of years I spent fumbling about on my own, I very much appreciate the networks I’ve discovered in the past few years, the newest of which is the potential of this blog. Many thanks to Susan for all the feedback and great links. You’ve encouraged me to stick with this blog and motivated me to keep working towards a challenge that seems somewhat overambitious. The ‘revolutionary’ Anythink library site has a wealth of resources that I’m just beginning to understand, thanks to her.

Another relatively new network that has been highly beneficial, is the group of 13 librarians in my district. We have been getting together three times a year for a few years now. Yesterday was our final meeting for this year. We rotate our meetings through each others’ libraries, an idea that has really consolidated the group. We share ideas, knowledge, concerns and frustrations, and I always come away feeling positive and motivated.

Although we all belong to the same Regional Library System and School District, we are a very diverse group. Working hours range from 6 hours per week to full-time, and many of us split our duties between the library and in classes as program assistants. About a third of the libraries are combined school and public.

From a couple of brief discussions yesterday, I took away a few ideas and opinions with regard to my project. I didn’t feel ready to present a full-on discussion about the potential implementation of the book store concept, but I hope some of my colleagues will follow me here and offer their advice.

We did, however, discuss e-book readers. I discovered that a least one other library is looking into them as well. With the group’s help, I managed to pin down several brand options (including iPad, which my computer technician generously let me borrow this week), as well as some questions I need to answer before purchase is made. Topping the list is the issue of e-book availability. Apparently some brands are affiliated with specific suppliers and formats are not universal. Will I have to decide on a supplier before I decide on a reader?

An autumn morning welcomes me to my library

A priority for me and a function I couldn’t find on the iPad is read-aloud, or text-to-speech capability. This is an essential feature for struggling readers and one of the prime reasons to buy e-readers for the Special Needs department. According to the most recent chart I have so far found, Amazon’s Kindle is one of the few that has it, but that brand has a couple of big disadvantages, not the least of which is the inability to borrow e-books through libraries. An equally important function is the integrated dictionary. I think I will be narrowing down my choices by those two features first.

So here I am on Saturday, researching e-books and ways to transform my library. If the sun comes out for an evening show, I am going to go out with my camera. Thank goodness housework is so very patient (and I can’t see it when I’m staring at my computer monitor)…

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Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Rethinking My Library