Tag Archives: primary education

Easy Street Gets a Makeover

Well, not a total makeover, but a pretty big one. When I first renovated the library, I kept the platform that the circulation desk had been on, thinking it would make a great little ‘room’ for elementary library classes.

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Easy Street 2012

Easy Street 2012

(More pics here and here.)

I loved it and for the most part, the kids loved it but after 2 years, I finally decided it had to go. A class of 27 Grade 2 students decided it for me. They were just too crowded. So after compromising with the maintenance department, my husband, my sons and I ripped the platform out and maintenance got the carpet relaid and fixed up the bottom of the walls. I purchased 3 book carts on casters with the profit from my book fair and this is what I have now.

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Easy Street 2014 (From Behind the wiring pole on the circulation desk)

Now there is much more space for the kids and a much more flexible space. I can roll the carts out for classes and can even roll up the alphabet carpet and place chairs for a sizable gathering. I loved the platform but I’m liking this even better.

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Jillian Jiggs says Hurrah! There’s room to dance.

Three more sleeps till the kids come back and still a list of things to do including getting textbooks ready to go and barcoding 75 new Chrome books.

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“Easy Street” – Decorated (Part 6a)

As an addition to A School Library Transformed – Part 6: Easy Street, I’ll show you some pictures of the area now that it’s decorated. I regret that there are no children in the picture – what’s a school library without the kids? – but FOIP privacy regulations do not allow it.

Easy Street from the circulation desk

The Canada and the World Island is on the far side of Easy Street. I replaced the plexiglass displayers on the slatwall stack-end with plastic ones because 2 got broken last year.

The border helps to camouflage the back of the ‘World’ Island stacks.

This side is against my office

Primary periodicals are on the shelves and I use the top sections for library class books and materials. I’m not sure if the donated tiered shelf is staying there or not, but you can’t have too much face-out display.

The smart board looks awful when I don’t have anything on it. The border helps a little. I often project a revolving slide show of reading pictures or photos of the students, but it’s a distraction when I have students working in the library. The thing beneath the smart board is just covered cardboard boxes, but I’ve submitted a request to have a trunk built, with a sloped lid for book display in which I’ll store the puppets.

My next request will be a stand/cupboard of some sort for the computer, ‘Sad Books’*, the ‘No, No, Never’ pail**, the Spacer*** box and other library class paraphernalia. The carpet, sponsored by a local business is awesome, but the space is a little too small for 25+ students once they get to about grade 4. Luckily there is a nice open space between Easy Street and the circulation desk were they can sit when we want to gather. All-in-all, I’m pretty happy with it and the kids love it, which is all that really matters.

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* Sad Books are books that have had to be discarded because of their condition. There are examples of mouldy, torn, cut-out, dog-eared and other very sad books that I show the little ones so that they can see for themselves books that they can no longer check out (I try to choose tempting ones) because of improper treatment.

**The “No, No, Never” pail contains items that when revealed the kids love to be able to call out ‘No, No, Never’ or ‘Happy Mr. Wiggle‘ when they discern whether or not an item (sizzors, bookmarks, glue, book bag, etc.) should be used with library books.

***Spacers are numbered, 10x30cm strips of coloured corrugated plastic that our students are taught to use to hold the place of the book they are looking at. Other libraries call them different things. What do you call yours?

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Read the whole series of the transformation of my K-12 library to a modified bookstore model here.

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A School Library Transformed – Part 6: Easy Street

My entire library is now arranged on a modified bookstore model. Fiction and nonfiction are shelved together in sections (called ‘Islands’) and subsections (called Departments) according to broad themes. It only took a year, butĀ  I have finally completed the reorganization of the K-2 ‘Island’, which has been known as “Easy Street” since before my time.

The undecorated, bare bones of the new “Easy Street”

Shelving for the rest of the library took up the entire renovation budget except for one 2-stack free-standing range for Easy Street. Working with this and the existing shelving, I sectioned the picture books into 32 departments, which had to be distributed among the 7 tall and 6 short stacks as well as the new shelving that fits 24 tubs. For a list of the Easy Street departments, click here.

If I could, I would have them all in bins or tubs since they are natural face-out display and the kids just seem to really like them. However, working with what I had was OK too, since the old stacks are nicely divided to keep the books upright in small sections.

Tales, Holidays and Fantasy along the back wall.

As I sorted the books I weeded heavily to eliminate any dingy or dated feel. From tightly packed shelves with ratty spines almost more eye-catching than the bright new ones between them, little fingers can now easily pinch and slide individual books out to give their typically quick evaluation of the book by its cover – the inevitable, if regrettable process.

As I mentioned at an earlier stage, I did not eliminate the Dewey Decimal numbers, but feel quite sure that they will be dropped in the near future. Nonfiction and fiction are grouped together within each shelf or bin. The books in the tubs are randomly mixed. In the stacks they are shelved with the nonfiction first and fiction following. Stories follow information books.

Dividing fiction and nonfiction materials is less and less important, given the proliferation of fact and concept-based fiction and narrative nonfiction. Critical thinking is always necessary to determine what information is researched and what can be attributed to an author’s imagination. My primary teachers are completely on board with this, being used to combining fiction and nonfiction in their teaching. They think it’s great that, for example, math stories and nonfiction are now together on one shelf.

The centre island with 24 bins – 1 to 2 bins per topic as well as some separate bins of easy readers at the bottom.

Apart from periodicalsĀ  and tubs of standard format readers kept separate from the themed sections, the departments range from the 2-stack, 329 book “Me, My Friends & My Family” to the 1 tub, 18 book department “Building and Construction”. (One of the many benefits of this project has been how obvious the need becomes to develop certain areas.) Many books could have been placed in more than one department. I tried to determine the primary theme to place each one. Thus fiction books with animal characters could be in one of the animals departments if the theme related to the real-life needs or habits of the animals, or any one of the others if it was about friendship or community, etc.

For the first month or so, I won’t obscure the signs with any display books. I designed the signs in Publisher to have a large image or a couple of images that students will hopefully identify with. Apart from the department title, I also typed a list of subjects included within the section for older students, program assistants and teachers, ensuring that connections to curriculum and common classroom themes were always included. The department abbreviation appears in a bottom corner corresponding to that on the bottom of the spine labels, assisting with shelving.

The tubs are more specific in theme than those in the stacks and do not need the list of included topics.

Although my mandate for library classes is not lesson-based, I intend to feature one department during each weekly library class. Showing a fiction and nonfiction book and reading aloud from either or both, I will encourage the children to identify the commonalities and differences. Students will need to think critically to separate fact from fiction while becoming familiar with the Easy Street departments.

Unfortunately, I could not complete this during the school year and put over 65 hours of my own time into it over the summer. (I do have a life, but it’s flexible.) It took me that much time to sort, read when necessary, weed, reclassify and relabel over 3,000 books and to make the signs. Being the sole person in the library during the school year, daily assistance to students and staff naturally took precedence. The bits I got done on this project barely made a difference. Not being the kind of person who can leave such a project incomplete, it was worth it to me to get it done over the summer.

Students share a discovery in Easy Street

The reaction of our Division 1 teachers during our first work day last week was very positive with absolutely no objection to the new arrangement. The grade 1 teacher was effusively enthusiastic. She has been teaching for over 20 years, is an inveterate library user and assures me that this is a better system.

It helps to remember that when Melville Dewey set up his amazing system of classification, patrons requested and librarians located the books. The success of the browse is absolutely essential in the modern library where patrons of all ages are encouraged to peruse, touch and make discoveries for themselves.

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Click here to see Easy Street after it has been decorated.

Read the whole series of this project here.

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