One of the major complaints I received from students when I first started was that the library didn't have any good books, so one of the first things that I did was create a suggestion box where I encouraged students to write down titles or series of books that they thought we should have in the library that they wanted to read. The students really liked this idea and they were happy to submit suggestions each time they visited the library. They were even more excited to see their suggestions show up on the shelves! The library has had a previous problem of some of the more popular series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants disappearing from the shelves so there were only a handful of those books when I started. Those were one of the first things that I ordered and they have been popular ever since. At the end of the year it seems like we still have most of them and they didn't walk out of the library likes years prior which is encouraging. I also tried to stay on top of the more recent Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners and also this year and next year's Golden Sower Nominated books.
There are a lot of students at Mount View who are reading below grade level so I think it is important for the library to have books that not only appeal to them, but also books they can read. We added a lot of the easy readers this year and the most popular ones were centered around Disney Princess, Lego, Star Wars and comic book characters, the kids really loved checking these out and I hope that these drew in some of the more reluctant readers, we have a pretty big section of these easy readers now and we put them at the beginning of our easy section so the kids are learning where to find these and they don't have to dig through the regular easy section to locate them.
In addition to adding to the easy readers section, I also worked on adding more titles to some of the popular fiction series that the kids enjoy and also the graphic novels. We have a lot of kids, mostly the boys, that are really into the graphic novels and we don't have a very good collection so that is another area that I am slowly trying to build up and maybe feature somehow differently next year. I also added more titles to some of the popular non-fiction areas that were in demand by the students, these were the drawing and origami section, the sports section and also some biographies. The circulation numbers below also show that the non-fiction books are primarily checked out by boys and the fiction/easy books are primarily girls, I would love to be able to choose books that would help even this out in the future.
Circulation Analysis By Gender/Type
At Mount View I see each grade level twice a week, with the exception of 6th grade who is three times a week, once for library and once in the computer lab. I struggled at the beginning of the year with the idea of being able to teach lessons and do check out in a 30 or 45 minute time frame, so around October I switched things up and decided that students would check out once in a 10 day cycle, except for Kindergarten and ACP who would still check out books weekly. I think this change caused a drop in my circulation of -3.89% prior to the previous year. As the year progressed I became more comfortable with the idea that I would be able to teach a short lesson in the timeframe that I had and would still be able to have enough time for checkout, next year I will be switching back to all students checking out on a weekly basis. I think the students will enjoy this more because I did hear lots of grumbles when they realized it was not their check out day and that's not what I want, they should be excited about coming into the library and getting new books to read.
Students in grades 3rd through 6th were able to check out up to five books at a time, students in Kindergarten checked out one book a week and 1st and 2nd graders checked out two books in a cycle. I know that one of our kindergarten teachers and one of the first grade teachers does not allow their class to take their books home, they must stay in the classroom, which I understand their concern about the books never getting returned, but at the same time I would like all students to be able to take books home to share with their family. Hopefully as I build relationships within the building it will be something that I can make those teachers understand my perspective on this and that they might one day let students take the books home. One thing I do want to do next year is have book bags for kindergarten students that has their barcode on it so it will hopefully be easier for them to keep track of their books.
One of my goals that I am setting for myself for next year is to run overdue notices on a more frequent basis, maybe once a month or at the end of each quarter, hopefully this strategy will be helpful in getting books back quicker and result in less lost items.
Looking at the circulation broken down by grade level, I immediately noticed that there is a huge drop off on check outs after 3rd grade, with 6th grade being the lowest. Another one of my goals for next year is to find a way to keep students interested in reading and checking out in the intermediate grades.
Mount View Circulation Comparison to Previous Year
I feel that I did not spend as much time with some of the databases that I should have with the students, because I myself was learning how to use them and how to become familiar with them. I did have a list of the links for the various databases and the necessary passwords available to students and their families when they stopped into the library on open house night and I talked about how they could access them at home and encouraged them to take a copy of the flyer with them for their reference. Once I became more familiar with the databases I tried to incorporate them into computer lab lessons. When the 2nd grade teachers told me that they were studying weather, I modeled how to look up the different types of weather on PebbleGo and how to listen to the article and watch the accompanying videos along with it and students were able to explore. I also gave them time to explore other subjects that they were interested in learning more about, they were really into the animal section and loved watching the videos about the different types of animals. I did have some students that when given the opportunity to have free time on a computer game who chose to use PebbleGo to listen and learn and watch videos. I think as a district we have a lot of good resources available to our students and I love that they all give the option for students to listen to information be read to them, I think this is really important to students who struggle with reading. I always made it a point to mention to students when we talked about any of the databases that they all had the option to listen to the information be read to them and showed them how to do this.
I also spent some time this year putting together a LibGuides page that was linked on the school's homepage. I divided the page up and had different links to the different grades and put together a list of sites that they would be interested in. After the NETA conference, I picked up a lot of good online free resources that I am going to spend some time exploring over the summer and will be adding to the LibGuide page, I also want to incorporate a Symbaloo link for the primary grades so they have an easier time locating links and it is more visual to them.
Add your 5 personal goals for you/your library this year.
1. Focus on forming relationships and building a good rapport with students.
This is an area that I felt was very important to the students and to myself in my first year. It took me awhile to learn all of the students names, and I'm still working on last names on some of them, but I feel good knowing that I can walk down the hall and say good morning to a student and call them by their first name. I still have students who when they come to check out their books tell me their name and I tell them that I know who they are and they seem surprised by this, they are also a bit surprised when they ask if I know their brother or sister in another grade and I tell them of course I do! I think having a good relationship with the students and getting to know them is so important to fostering a positive and welcoming library space. I also was able to get to know some of the students and what they were into reading and was able to help them select books that they might enjoy when they were looking for something new to read. I know that there have been a few different librarians at Mount View over the last few years and I hope that I can give students a constant and provide them with a good school library experience. I feel that I struggled with some of the 6th grade students during the year and wasn't able to build some of those relationships as I would have liked to, but on the positive side, I can do that with the younger grades and can really get to know them and see how they grow and change over the next few years.
2. Create a positive and welcoming environment in the library space.
I really wanted to make students feel welcome in the library and not dread having to come it. I made sure that I greeted classes with a smile each day and was friendly and that I always told them to have a great day or weekend as they left. When students would individually bring in books that were overdue I would always thank them for bringing it back and when they would come to me and tell me that they thought they had lost a book I would always tell them not to worry and just to keep looking and that it would hopefully turn up. I didn't want students to be afraid of checking out books or to think that I would be upset if they lost books or damaged them so I tried to keep it upbeat and positive. My paraprofessional told me that last year there wasn't a lot of decorations and things hung up around the library so we tried to create displays and things to make it a welcoming space. I began to hang student work on the windows and the kids really liked coming back and seeing their art hung up on the wall for everyone else to see. I want to continue this next year and really work on developing some more bulletin boards and displays that are eye catching. I also had a steady group of students that would come visit me after school on their way to Boys and Girls Club, they would come into to return/check out books or sometimes just for a hug or to say hi, which was really a nice feeling!
3. Understanding of the curriculum and where the library can support it.
In addition to the grade level pacing guides, our building has weekly curriculum posted by grade level outside of the teachers lounge. I was able to get copies of most of the grades halfway into the school year and I felt this gave me a better focus of what the students were working on at a weekly basis and I was able to try to plan lessons or themes around this. I really struggled with the idea of what am I supposed to be teaching and at what time at the beginning of the school year and I want to get my hands on the weekly curriculum breakdown before next year starts so I can plan better for next year.
4. Build relationships with staff members and work towards collaboration.
This is an area where I think I will be working on for awhile and I expected that it would take time. I made it a point to always be quick to help teachers who came into the library find books on a particular subject or a theme which I think was a good starting point to show them that I was here to help and support them. When the library ordered a new math series, I sent out an email to the staff letting them know and telling them about what it was and invited them to come in and I could show them where it was located, I had one staff member that approached me and was excited about it and was glad that I her know. I have had conversations recently with one of our 5th grade teachers and we've been talking about collaborating on a quarterly Social Studies project of some sort and I look forward to working on that hopefully next year. I also helped our literacy facilitator with a project where she and a group of teachers were looking at creating lessons using various mentor texts, I helped her borrow books for their review from other libraries in the district and ordered some of the books that they wanted to create lessons around so that we would have them in our collection for the teachers to use next year, she was very appreciative of my assistance during this project.
5. Become familiar with the materials in the collection and where needs are.
I learned quickly from the students that there didn't seem to be a lot of books in the library that they were interested in, we didn't have a lot of the popular fiction series and graphic novels that the students wanted to read so they were some of the first things that I added and continued to add throughout the school year. I asked students to give suggestions for books that I should purchase and used their suggestions to add to the collection during the year. There were some areas that I felt that we didn't have a lot of books by some of the more popular authors and I added to fill in some holes. I do have a list of books that are on my summer reading list (including the next year's Golden Sower Nominees) so that I can have a better ability to recommend books to students as they ask. I want to continue to incorporate student suggestions into my collection development because I think this gives students a sense of ownership and interest in the library and the books.
The 3 strategies you picked from the Academic Achievement Plan spiral bound book.
1. Attention Getting and Non Verbal Techniques
I struggled with this during the year, I really had a hard time getting everyone's attention when I did the "Give Me 5", overall my classroom management skills need to be improved on and I am looking forward to attending an inservice this summer and working on new strategies next year.
There were times where I would give students the choice to pick a game from a website and give them the freedom to decide what they wanted to work on. I would mix it up sometimes by telling them that they needed to pick a math game on ABCya.com or something from the reading section, or sometimes either one. I think students liked this option and they liked being able to work independently and not have to do the same thing as everyone else. I also gave students the freedom to chose their own books for checkout, they did not have to pick from their reading level or from a certain section, they could pick what they were interested in reading.
3. Cooperative Learning Strategies (Kagan)
I tried to incorporate a lot of the Think-Pair-Share strategy in our discussions about the books that we were reading aloud. It took time to practice with the students and we were still working on it as the year closed, but I like giving them the chance to talk with each other about what we are reading and to be able to share their ideas in a small group and with the whole class.
Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (402-557-2001).
Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (402-557-2001).