Tag Archives: reading

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 When it comes to nonfiction in general, it’s true that many topics have been superseded by online resources.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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What He Said…

Because:

Books give you a way of decoding this crazy muddle of life. They will give you a way of describing the world, a way of finding your way through the extraordinary and the everyday. They are also a much needed refuge and escape. There are books for the break ups and the break downs, the make ups and the get downs.

and

Avoid people who 11822269_10153550606183064_5408127014115988587_nproudly say they don’t read. Unless you want to poop on them. That is allowed, nay, encouraged. Well, at least while you’re still in nappies.

and the rest: A Father Introduces His Newborn Daughter to Books at Book Riot

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Filed under Books, Reading

Pick-up Lines

I’m very excited and had to share this really not-beautiful but really successful YA Display. I got the idea from the Johnson County Library via Pinterest. (Thanks for sharing, JCL!)

First Lines Display Sign

I decided to go with the black and white theme and added some intrigue by calling it “Pick-up Lines”. There’s so little time at the beginning of the year, I did this as simply as I could. I had planned to lay some black paper and decorate the shelves a little more, but this is all I got done before the first classes came in.

I found a frame and a bunch of first lines, printed them out and set up the display. The first two junior high classes checked  out half the books! That’s a pretty good number here as most of my displays in that section are barely noticed. One Grade 9 student even let me know that it’s a really fun display!

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I gathered the first lines from all over the place including books in my library. I’m still working on more, hoping this keeps going for a while. Feel free to use the sign or covers, for which you’ll also need the first lines list to identify the titles.

  • Print 2 quotes side by side on 8.5″ x 11″ paper landscape-wise.
  • Cut the sheets and glue each quote to the right side of a sheet of construction paper.
  • Attach a label to the reverse, with the title, author & call number.
  • Laminate the sheets.
  • Wrap sheets around the book so the cover is hidden (some books are too big but so far I’ve made it work).
  • Crease it a little to square off on the spine.
  • Attach a piece of clear tape from the back to the front, folding the end over to make a pull tab for removal.
  • Design a sign (or print mine if you like) and set up the display!

I have now made a second batch from books gleaned from my shelves including some older gems to encourage some new circulation for them. I reserve the books for myself when they are borrowed, so I can set them back up on display once they are returned. I’m keeping track of the circulation on the master list as well and may remove some that don’t end up going out at all.

Like all displays, I’m sure this will have a limited shelf-life, so I will have to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get stale. In the meantime, I’m happy with its effectiveness. If you try it or have tried it, let me know in the comments how it went for you. I’d also love to hear if you have any other successful YA display ideas.

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Filed under Library Management, Library Programs, Rethinking My Library

Embraced by Words

Embraced by Words by  Robbert van der Steeg on Flickr

Embraced by Words by Robbert van der Steeg
on Flickr

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Amy’s Marathon of Books

Amy Mathers

Ontario’s Amy Mathers was born with Glycogen Storage Disease Type IIIa (GSD), a form of muscular dystrophy. With a focus on paying forward the gifts of two organ transplants, she is a strong advocate for organ and tissue transplant awareness.

She is also a passionate reader and uses teen novels in bibliotherapy, using books “to help people identify their feelings and cope with their lives”.

Inspired by Terry Fox and Rick Hansen’s Canadian journeys, her newest project, ‘Amy’s Marathon of Books”, promises to raise money for a new Canadian teen fiction prize. Amy calculated that Terry Fox walked an average of one kilometres every six minutes and that she can read ten pages in the same amount of time. Thus every ten  pages will represent one kilometre as she reads books from each province and territory,  beginning with Newfoundland.

Amy expects to finish one book a day in 2014 and will post reviews of each book on her blog. Her goal is “To raise money for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) in order to endow a Canadian teen book award to be presented at the yearly Canadian Children’s Literature Awards gala”.

Visit Amy’s Marathon of Books to learn more, suggest a book, donate, participate or follow Amy and her book reviews through a variety of social media.

See also:
Hope for Families Counselling Centre
The Phoenix Zine

Wikimedia Commons

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Reading Classics Makes You Nicer Too

I read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas this summer on my Kobo. The e-reader took the physical weight off my hands and allowed me to absorb the mental weight by the hour. I loved it. I do enjoy classic fiction (I’m a huge Dickens fan) but this book stuck me hard with the complexity of the diabolical plot and Dumas’ ability to draw such wonderfully unique characters.

It turns out that I was engaging in some social therapy as I lounged in the sunshine.

Photo by Jennifer on Flickr

In a recent New York Times article, Pam Belluck discusses a study published in the Journal of Science that found a direct correlation between reading literary fiction and good social skills. It’s not the first study to have reached the conclusion that the development of empathy and sensitivity can be enhanced by reading, but this one compares literary fiction with nonfiction and popular novels.

“…after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

“…The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

“…The study’s authors and other academic psychologists said such findings should be considered by educators designing curriculums, particularly the Common Core standards adopted by most states, which assign students more nonfiction.” For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

Enokson on Flickr

Enokson on Flickr

Luckily, we library people can do our bit to encourage such reading in our schools. The very generous digital artist Enokson on Flickr shares these “Booktalkers“.

“Cut apart these bookmarks and slip into books on display or on shelves, leaving them peeking out of the top of the pages or to attract attention to new books or books of specific genres. A black and white version is also available in my photostream.”

Her Creative Commons license only asks that they not be used for commercial purposes, that you give the artist credit, and that if you modify it, you share your work with the same generosity.

(I wonder if these generous people who share their work so freely read more literary fiction – empathy and sensitivity at work, wouldn’t you say?)

Disclaimer: I do not endorse or earn any income from the advertising that WordPress places on this site, which you see if you are not logged in to WordPress. The fact is, it would cost me money to remove it and I can’t justify that for this hobby. Please let me know if you see anything objectionable.

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Filed under Education, Online Resources, Reading, Wisdom

Read Around the Room

What a great idea!

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April 3, 2013 · 6:00 am