Archive | October, 2010

Halloween Window Display

28 Oct

It was my first window painting experience. At the beginning of the year I advertised for a group of students who would like to produce some displays throughout the year. For Halloween, the design team and I spent a few hours putting up this Halloween display. It was great because they came up with the design and I just helped with the manual labour. It was a lot of work but it draws students’ attention and helps to make the library relevant to the rest of the school.


Weekend Website

24 Oct

I am involved with a specialist group of teachers who serve intermediate teachers. For our professional development day I had to help run a conference and didn’t get any professional development of my own. To try to remedy that I have been voraciously reading journal articles online, especially in the area of the internet and the library.

During my research I came across School Library Monthly’s blog and, after seeing this, I’m afraid that my husband may have some competition for my time.

This site is a wealth of information and resources. It has quite a few entries on technology in the library and links to many helpful websites. The visuals of the blog are engaging and vibrant and the organization of the site makes it incredibly user-friendly. The archives are all listed and none of the articles are time-wasters. They are organized by date and also by topic.

I really like that the current entries seem to coincide with things that teachers have been asking me about lately. This shows me that my teachers are up-to-date but also that we are on the right track with new technology initiatives. It is also helpful that I have found this resource because now I can use this blog as my cheat sheet and look like I know all of the answers!

I dream of a beautiful library

20 Oct

This post is dedicated to all librarians-who-wish-that-they-were-interior-designers. Drooling is allowed.

I have spent many hours over the past few days looking at library design. I may have to plan a trip to Amsterdam to see the new Netherlands branch library.

Apparently, the number of users in the month after it opened increased 5%. I wonder what the increase in the number of international visitors was. The whole goal of the library was to be more of a bookstore than a traditional library. It has shelving that displays the front covers of the books, comfortable sitting areas and a colourful, modern design.

I have linked this stunning catalogue desk before but I can’t get it out of my mind so here it is again. It was created with old books when a new library was built at the Technology University in Delft (interestingly enough, also in Amsterdam).

This bookshelf caught my eye and I’m sure it would make students stop to take a second look.

If I find myself with some time on my hands, I will look into making one of these. I could fill it with a selection of books that make you look at an issue differently.

The previous two library decorating ideas may be far off dreams, but I have plans to make this next one a reality. I have mentioned before that I love the alphabet as a decorating tool and this is the best way to use it as a functional decorating tool…as an alphabet bookshelf!

Joanne’s Crafts (in the country of our cousins to the south) has a selection of large 3D cardboard letters. They are intended to be painted or papered or decorated in some other creative way. If I was to paint these out and attach them together (using my father’s expertise as an engineer) they could be a stunning way to display books that I want to highlight. It would be ideal because I could design it to have the books facing with the cover out (as we all know that the likelihood of choosing a book if you can see the cover goes way up).

Sometimes I just like to dream.

Weekend Website

17 Oct

Ooh and ahh. I love books. I especially love books when I am the first one to read them. That’s sick, I know, but I just can’t help it. It hurts me a little inside to pass on this website because it might impair my ability to be the first to have seen a new up and coming book but I am willing to make this sacrifice.

I should just end my post there to entice you to check it out… but I can’t help but gab a bit about how exciting it is.

The page iteslf if very attractive with a rotating shelf of books to entice the viewer. Librarians can sign up to read books before their release date and, in some cases, even before their publication date! You can choose the types of books that you are most interested in and be a casual reader or sign up as a book reviewer for publishers. Since we all have oodles of free time, I know we will all be signing up for that. NetGalley is a good way for librarians to be tuned to the new and upcoming books.

Dear Google: You are my library nemesis.

14 Oct

We have the benefit of district funding for online reference materials, but I know that they are not being used. I don’t know if it is because they are hard to access or if students are just unfamiliar with them, but I have an inkling that it might be a combination of both of those options.

As creatures of habit, we choose to deal with the monster we know rather than venture into the unknown. Students have grown up using Google and rely on this relationship when they have a research question. This makes Google my strongest competition.

I don’t think that one lonely librarian can take on the global juggernaut that is Google, but that won’t stop me from trying.

The amount of money that goes into online reference materials purchased by the district is huge and we are not getting out money’s worth. Being of incredibly Dutch descent, I hate to see anything go to waste (and I love tulips and own a pair of wooden shoes).

The big question now is: How will I combate Google?

Please don’t get me wrong, I like Google. I use Google. I have no personal vendetta against Google other than the fact that, because of Google, students may not be exploring the vast numbers of resources available to them through alternative search engines.

So here is my master plan…

#1. During the grade 8 orientation, I highlighted the online reference sources to all of the students and forced them to record our offsite subscription user name and password.

#2. At our Pro-D day in November we will be learning about making websites. This is not completely new to me, but our school website could use an overhaul to make it more streamlined and easy to use. Once I have created a new website with our online subscription reference resources on a quick link, my true propaganda campaign will begin.

#3. I will post the resources and instructions for use on our school library bulletin board and on the library window facing out into the atrium. Once that is up, our online discussions board for school staff will be updated with reminders about the fabulous resources for students and highlighting the new and fabulous library website.

#4. In addition, our district bought bookmarks for all of the students with the proceeds of a conference last year and there is just enough space on the back to affix a label with the library website, reference user name and password information. While I would love to have all the classes in to use the online resources, we only have a limited number of computers in our library so this is not a realistic dream. Maybe one day….

Unfortunately, I cannot force students to use these resources but I can make it easy and relatively painless. I have a hunch that even some of those students who seem to insist that they will make it all the way through high school without ever once visiting the library may be enticed to use some of the library resources since technically they need not step foot inside the physical library space. (This is akin to sneaking pureed vegetables into children’s food by using the justification that “It’s good for them and they will never even know it.” Thank-you, Mom).

Weekend Website

9 Oct

There are so many websites that offer free services and only charge you for a portion of them. Survey Monkey is one of these – but the best part is that the entire website is incredibly useful without any purchase at all. On Survey Monkey you are able to create a survey, have students (or other participants) take the survey online and then the site collates the results for you. No muss, no fuss, and we all know that fewer papers are always a good thing. In the end, the website only charges if you want it to collate and present the results in a manner other than a simple bar graph (ex. as a pie chart, etc).

I created a simple survey for students to give me some information of their library use. It took me no time at all and I can simply send the link to some teachers and ask them to have their students fill it out. Easy peasy.

I never pictured myself as a cheerleader…

6 Oct

But here I am. I may as well have pompoms and a megaphone because I am the official head cheerleader for the reference section of the library. During the grade 8 orientation, there was an air of “Give me a R, give me an E, give me an F…” and so on and so forth.

While perusing the collection during the periods where class groups are not scheduled, I have been amazed by the quality of the reference materials. Unfortunately, I feel as if there is a stigma in the reference section. They are like the celebrities of the library: expensive, showy, and something that is outside the realm of daily life. They can only be accessed at certain times and usually with the assistance of the librarian as if it was a chaperoned meeting, only borrowed for an overnight rendezvous and costing 10 times more in overdue charges. They may as well be jewel-encrusted and placed in glass boxes.

However, in my new role as head reference cheerleader, I have been trying to break that stigma. With the grade 8 orientation and every class who has come into the library, I have constantly been referring them to books in the reference section (and to our online reference resources – but that is a topic for another time).

My personal favourite is the Encyclopedia series of World War 2. It has so many images and primary source documents that its richness is like an information bubblebath that you want to be completely immersed in and can easily lose all sense of time. Now I just have to get the students to relish it along with me….

Goal #368: Get the students to use the reference resources on a consistent basis.

Goal #369: Have students cheer along with the head reference cheerleader.