June 14, 2013

It's the Little Things That Make You Say...Huh?

This is the returns bin at my old school.  There's a slot on the front side where you slide in books and other stuff you're returning to the library.  In that big cart with wheels there is a spring-loaded bottom that stays up when it's empty but slowly lowers as more stuff is returned.  You pull out the whole cart and scan in the returns and go on your merry way.  This school is approximately 15 years old and has a student population of around 630.

This is the return bin at my new school.  The slot here is on the top (which would make it a challenge for our smallest patrons) but obviously that's not the thing I'm most concerned about.  This school is less than 5 years old and has a population of around 1100.  That's more than twice the amount of stuff coming back as at my previous school.  So this return bin is useless.  Literally.  They don't use it for returns.  They have carts set out for returns instead.  Was it a mistake in ordering when the school opened that was just never corrected?  Who knows.  I've sent a couple inquiries up the food chain of the district, so we'll see if this can be rectified but in the meantime, it's just amusing.

WARNING: what follows is detailed, nerdy librarian rambling. (TL;DR version: I'm making lots of little piddly changes to the library that are satisfying for me, but probably boring to read about unless you are a school librarian. And even then I make no promises.)

Of course if that's the only thing I have to complain about then I clearly have it pretty good at my new school.  I've spent a few days this summer going over there and getting settled in.  I loved the previous media specialist, but every one is different so I'm making some changes.  First of all, she seems to have moved away in a hurry and left much behind in her office.  So I'm going through file cabinets and tossing a lot of stuff.  I'm also realizing that these days, other than invoices, most everything else can be kept digitally.  Might be getting rid of at least one of these file cabinets.

I've also been shifting the books around a lot.  The professional books were way in the of the equipment room and I heard that some teachers were even unaware we have a professional collection, so I moved the whole shebang out onto the floor of the library.  I'll get some kind of doohickeys to display some of those books too.

I was planning on only reading all the rest of shelves and getting to know the collection but I'm taking on a whole shifting project.  My lovely predecessor made these nice A-Z dividers for the E and FIC sections but for some reason decided they needed to be in the upper left hand of each section permanently affixed to that part of the book case.  What this means is that very full sections, like the S's are burstingly tight while sections like the I's have many empty shelves.  I'm redoing the whole thing by affixing the letter dividers to movable metal dividers, thereby letting the collection be spread out evenly, giving bigger sections more room and smaller sections only what they need.

I'm doing the same thing with non-fiction.  It was driving me crazy because like I said, this school is coming up on only it's fifth year.  There are oodles and gobs of empty shelving that will never be used, yet there are sections like the 500s that are packed in tight.  So I'm removing all the permanent signage, replacing it with moveable dividers, and shifting and spreading out the collection.

I'm not worried about ever filling up all these shelves because as regular readers will know, I'm a big proponent of weeding.  I won't weed much this year, other than damaged books, but I'm running some reports and keeping an eye on some things that will start going next year.  My rule of thumb has always been, if it hasn't circulated in 5 years, weed it.  Well there are many books (and videos, etc.) that have never checked out and we're coming up to year five.  I'm going to start displaying the things that have never circulated to give them a chance and it's not like I'll instantly weed everything that hasn't moved in five years all at once, but that's the stuff I'll target starting in 2014-15.

Some of it is great stuff.  Rosie's  Walk is a classic that I'll read aloud, display and give every chance to move.  Some of it I'm hardly surprised by and won't bother me to remove.  There are boring non-fiction titles that were certainly bought as part of a generic school-library-opening package that no one will ever miss.  There's more than one title just called Norway that have never moved for crying out loud.  Just sayin.

I'm also working on streamlining the morning announcement broadcast.  Stealing a page from a colleague, I'm going to do it all on video and have just one big show for Mondays, with just the basics the rest of the week.  That will give the morning crew more interesting things to do and give me more time in the morning (which will be essential without a clerk).  It will also be way more fun. I've talked to my principal and she's all for it and even going to get me some new equipment to make it happen.  I love her.

There are other, long term plans.  It's a very big, beigey beige room.  With touches of beige.  I want to add some more comfortable and colorful chairs (yea, IKEA!), a few more cool rugs and a bit of color elsewhere.

I don't know anything about design, but I'm thinking of maybe getting at least that edge around the drop ceiling painted.  And maybe the pillars?  I don't know.  I found some cool red chairs at IKEA so thought about getting that drop ceiling edge painted red.  I think that would make it pop a little without being overwhelming.  But perhaps the school-color emerald green?  Still thinking about that one.

I'm not fan of the typical school library mural scenes of forests with castles and dragons and kids reading books.  (Or those illegal Cat in the Hats and other copyrighted characters milling about). I just want some color.  I much prefer fun posters I can easily update and change as time goes by.  There is one mural in the library which isn't too bad (and at least they used real animals).  But that's more than enough for me:

That's last year's amazing long-term sub they got to fill in for the moving Media Specialist.  She's wonderful and just who I'd hire if they ever get the $ for a clerk again.

Had enough library rambling?  Good, my daughter is pulling on my sleeve and asking to go to the pool again.  So no more obsessing for me right now.  Gotta get back to summer activities and let all this stuff percolate in my brain a little longer...