Three years ago, I retired from the small independent school where I’d worked for twelve years. The last ten I spent getting my library certification, while building the library and library programming there.
It was hard to leave but time to go, with family needs and the publishing company left to me by my Dad calling on my time and my heart.
But that library led me to my true calling, I believe, and they really never got rid of me, once I was able to go back as a sub the past two years. I’d shelve books and exclaim over the new acquisitions, and happily talk books with the kids (and teachers!) in the hallway and classroom.
Three years later, I have the opportunity to be a part of the school improvement plan in ways none of us could have imagined all those years ago, when I was growing a library from shelves full of used books and a room full of promise.
While others prepare to deliver curriculum in the library, I am redesigning the collection for a move to new teaching spaces after this coming school year.
The first job is a total weed of the collection, something which can never happen completely while also fulfilling a teaching and duty schedule. Over the years, this task has grown to somewhat daunting proportions.
One could say that moving a school from two buildings to one is a sad thing, that it is a downsizing of the program. Really, though, this is a right-sizing of the program designed to serve this small school population while resources grow.
My job, building a library collection that reflects the mission and vision of the school while it shrinks to fit smaller spaces, is one example of the thoughtful approach to these changes. Our school is authorized for the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, serving students grades 6-8. The school is actively pursuing application for the Primary Years Programme, which serves early childhood through middle grade students.
Using best library practices, I’m working to make this the best possible library for our school community. I’m using the following points to approach each book we have in the library.
Does the collection include diverse voices and viewpoints? Do windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors exist in the choices of the books we choose for our students? Could ANY student find themselves reflected somewhere in our library, and could ANY student learn about people with different experiences and viewpoints than their own there?
Did we practice due diligence in examining our personal biases as we decide which books serve our community the very best way? Can we offer teachers and families a wide selection of really great books, including those that exemplify the IB’s ten Learner Profile traits?
Next, I use circulation statistics to inform my decision about a book. If no one has checked out a book that is more than ten years old in the past five years, it’s got to go, unless I happen to know that it a hidden gem no one could find before.
The last gauge I use is age (science, geography and other areas are outdated faster than others). The copyright date is one checkpoint, but smelly books always go(ewww),no matter how special!
Library staff has performed these weeding exercises by section as they were able to in the past, but this move provides great motivation to get the whole job done on the entire library, and I’m making progress. When I’m finished, the remaining collection will fit into the new teaching spaces being designed for them throughout the school, the collection will be accessible to everyone, and the great books that have in some cases been hidden within the vast number of volumes will be visible and ready to share!
It is so exciting to be part of something that will add value to a school so dear to my heart. I’m very happy to back in the bookstacks to be making a difference, also to peek between the covers of favorite middle grade books I recommended or have on my own TBR pile, and to geek out in the land of the well- designed library catalog, one of my weird and wonderful passions.
- From the Mixed-Up Files... > Op-Ed
August 16, 2017
The American Library Association has released a statement condemning racism and the recent violence in Charlottesville. “The ALA supports voices of hope as such actions mirror the library community’s efforts to abolish bigotry and cultural invisibility,” said ALA President Jim Neal.
Teachers searching for help to start the conversation about Charlottesville with their students have a new resource: #CharlottesvilleCurriculum. Melinda Anderson, a contributing writer for The Atlantic who covers education and race, created the Twitter hashtag to share websites, videos, and other documents to use in class. One of the resources listed on the hashtag includes this book list from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.
August 9, 2017
We have a winner for the Rafflecopter giveaway of the debut novel KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE!
Thanks, Jennifer B., and happy reading!
August 3, 2017
The popular MY WEIRD SCHOOL series by Dan Gutman also has fun games to go along. Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a free copy! Giveaway ends on August 8.
MG Author Jason Reynolds, author of AS BRAVE AS YOU, will be the official spokesperson for Indies First. This is the national campaign that supports independent bookstores, and will bring together authors, readers, and publishers at events across the country. Indies First will be held on November 25.
June 28, 2017
Children’s Book Sales: Great news for readers and writers alike – books sales in children’s fiction are on the rise. Not by a lot, only 2% this month over this time last year, but we’ll take it as a sign people are reading. The larger increase is in nonfiction, by 9%. Leading the pack: Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED, with over 13,000 copies sold.
Congratulations! Lots of great news from MUF authors. This month, Laurie J. Edwards w/a Rachel J. Good’s Book 3 in the Sisters & Friends Amish series, GIFT FROM ABOVE (YA/Adult) went on sale, as did Julie K. Rubini’s VIRGINIA HAMILTON: AMERICA’S STORYTELLER (Ohio University Press/Biographies for Young Readers). Next month, we get Beth McMullen’s MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (S&S/Aladdin).