The snow and ice have hit Georgia! Who would have thought that I would have missed almost the entire month due to weather-related school cancellations?! Teachers returned last Friday for an icy work day and I took full advantage. I must admit that it was hard to get going after being lazy at home all week and realizing that it was Friday and I was about to have another two lazy days, but I eventually moved into action.
You might remember my post about a space that I have reclaimed in our library for a future makerspace. If not, take a minute to jump over and read that post HERE first. I begged for some help from my assistant principal and art teacher (two of only four males in my building) to assist with moving the outdated curriculum materials that were stored here. These materials were picked over by our teachers several times and now it was time to haul them outta there!
Clearing these materials was the biggest part of clearing out the room for our makerspace and it only took about an hour and two truck loads! Wow! Look at how awesome those empty shelves are! I can just imagine all sorts of makerspace goodies to fill them with.
The other component that needed addressing was the old technology stuff. A lot of the surplus technology equipment had been moved by our former technology support person. I had to get our new guy up to speed, but as soon as I did, he swiftly got to work and had it all cleared out! I was so impressed and thanked him profusely. He told me that he didn't like clutter and was happy to help. I think I've met my match in terms of throwing out old stuff....he likes to do the same thing!
Finally, I would be remiss in leaving out the efforts on my wonderful custodian. Mr. Raymond is truly a gem. He helps me in so many ways and keeps our library looking clean and tidy. When I wasn't looking, he came in and took the time to scrape all of the old clothespins that were hot glued to the walls off and hauled off two boxes of remaining trash! WOW! What a blessing.
So, I now have a blank slate. An empty canvas. I plan to remove some of the shelving (the section that is blocking the steps up to the stage floor) and I plan to cut some of the shelving down to a lower height. I've debated about requesting that the big shelving unit (the one pictured above) be moved to the back of the room so that I could put a dry erase board up here at the front, but I'm uncertain about that for now. These shelves are all bolted down to the walls, so they are sturdy and secure.
I'm excited to see the room progressing to this point. I'd like to request permission to PAINT, but am sure this might be a road block. I think I may just get in there, clean really well, hang up some bright decor, and start USING the room! I'm afraid if I let it sit too long with no use, it might be claimed by someone else!
I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions for this space. Or, please share a comment or two about your makerspace area in your library. I hope to feature this transformation in a future conference presentation, so all ideas are welcome and I'll be sure to give credit where credit is due. Until next time...
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones! November just seems like it has flown by and as you noticed, I didn't do any blogging during our week off from school. My family took a trip to South Carolina (hope to share a little something from that trip in the future) and I just chose to spend the week enjoying my time away from school. But now that I'm back in the swing, I just keep thinking to myself, "why is it that I only seem to stay one step ahead?"
Do you ever have that feeling? The feeling that no matter how much planning you do, how much you organize, or how hard you work that it just seems you are barely staying afloat?
I have several projects I've started and few I've completed. Sad but true. Just keepin' it real, folks. I started my labeling for genrefication of my fiction section and I've only made it to the Cs. Seriously. I cleared out a massive storage room and got it almost completely done when I was told that it wouldn't be my space to use....yep, they are claiming it for a data room. Bummer. I started designing a plan to remove the circulation desk and transform the space into a more user-friendly area for students, but alas, plans have stalled. No money for the new seating I want.
Now lest I have you thinking you've stumbled on the Un-Happy Library website....I'm not down in the dumps about any of this. I realize I'm only one step ahead, but that is saying something! I am still happy to be where I am, doing what I love, and dreaming of how to make my little library the happiest it can be. And it so happens, one of the spaces that is connected to our library that was being used for storage of technology and outdated curriculum has been returned to me for our future STEM (a.k.a. maker) space! That's right....I get to clean out another area, but this time it will stay a part of our library.
With the long intro done, I want to show you what I'm working with!
Here is the doorway that connects to our library....you can see my board and my yellow story time chair off in the distance. When you enter this room, you can see there is some sturdy metal shelving against the walls. Some of the shelving will stay, but the one section you are looking at here will be moved. It might be hard to tell, but this room has an elevated floor section and that shelf is sitting in the path of the stairs. Look at all of that old guided reading stuff! Whew! I asked teachers to come and claim anything they wanted, so what you are seeing is AFTER the massive clean out by our staff....unreal. These paperback books will be donated to our school store or may be recycled. My plan here is to clear the wall and the pathway so that it is safe for students. I would also like to paint....more on that later.
In this picture, you see a direct view from the actual doorway of the library. The fact that there is an outside doorway and window is wonderful because it gives this dark space some light! And again, you can see how much metal shelving there is. I will keep the sections bolted to the wall on the left of this picture. I have discussed with my assistant principal and custodian the idea of keeping the other section (that is sitting up against the stage wall) but cutting it down with metal cutters. It would provide some valuable storage for STEM supplies, but by cutting it down lower, it would open up a line of sight for me and wouldn't block the natural light from the windows to the other side of the room. We will see if this happens. It might not work.
There is more of the old curriculum items to weed, plus the big blue box is just "junk" that needs to be hauled out. The old Eagle banner in the back needs to be removed and all of those clothespins need to be scraped off the wall. Can you imagine what a fresh coat of paint would do?!?
These two pictures are just spanning right from the view in Photo B and give a great view of the current space. This area is primarily an elevated stage and you can barely see the steps up on the right side in Photo C. The steps are wide and flat which is nice for little feet.
A lot of the technology equipment is being moved into the technology office. That will clear off that shelving unit in the back (which will probably stay in the space). The boxes of books in the foreground of these photos are books that were sorted by our upper grade level teachers and are now gone. They were moved into a book room in another location of the school.
I'm not sure about all of the heavy brown library furniture back here. I really want something lighter and more flexible, but I won't move it out just yet. I have to be sure I can replace it with something first. But I do want to be sure to open up as much floor space as possible for activities on the floor.
This is just another view of the stage area and step area. I'm still debating about that white wire shelf over there on the right....ideas?
And finally, a view from the stage itself. The room is actually quite spacious, but it looks so small due to all the tall shelves packed with materials. I have big dreams for this space....fresh paint, new STEM supplies, flexible seating.....
I plan to share this transformation with you all. One step at a time. And trust me, I'll only be one step ahead.
Being new to an elementary school library means being new to the work involved in hosting a book fair. My school usually has a fall and spring fair, both with Scholastic. The previous media specialist had already booked the fairs for this year, so basically all I needed to do was to confirm. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Way wrong.
My first rookie mistake was in thinking that a book fair only takes one week. Wrong. When looking at the schedule, the fair is delivered the week prior to the actual event week, so I had to make room for all those cases coming in (more on the cases later). I also had to schedule a "closed" day so that I could set up the displays and put the items out in the library. And we also have a Grandparents' Day Lunch that is hosted every year....on a Friday...during the book fair. The booking of the fair was done so that the Friday before the fair we could host the grandparents for a day of shopping. This meant no class preview day. Basically, I needed an entire week to get this fair ready. And it was the week of Labor Day, so that meant we were out of school on Monday. I can honestly say that the fact I have to take two weeks out of my schedule for the fair, not just one, was disappointing to me. But...I get it.
My second rookie mistake was approving the custom fair that was ordered without thinking about it. The previous media specialist was obviously experienced. She had done many fairs in this space and knew exactly what she could and would be willing to do. She ordered a custom fair with 9 cases, plus countless boxed items for additional "sections" for the fair. I didn't realize this was a mistake until the fair was delivered. When I saw the quantity of stuff rolling in...well, let's just say my reaction was less than positive. Mostly because I was realizing in that moment that it would be me and one Scholastic rep setting up the fair. (Scholastic promised me a person to help set up the fair since it was my first fair ever.) There is no way I will order a fair this large ever again....and I mean never. It is just entirely too much stuff for our small space!
After the Labor Day holiday, I hit the ground running on Tuesday and Wednesday with all of my classes. I tried to get everyone in to return and check-out books prior to shutting down all circulation for the week of the book fair. The students were sad that they didn't have an actual library lesson this week and I was too...but the excitement was building for the book fair. I had to shelve thousands of books in these two days! My little library helpers came in each morning to help, but I did do the bulk of it.
I awaited the arrival of the fair on Wednesday. It was to be delivered between the hours of 7am and 4pm. When my clock read 3:50 and no truck had arrived, I was anxious. And upset. And worried. But at 3:58pm, the truck pulled in and the custodian and Scholastic guy started unloading. This is when the real panic set in. I couldn't believe how MUCH stuff was rolling in the door. I mean we had a hard time fitting it all in the library and the cases were closed!!! I didn't get out of the door until after 5pm that day.
Thursday came and I locked the doors and got to work. I started at 7am and worked all day. I didn't even stop for lunch! I worked and waited for the Scholastic rep to come. I had been told twice that I would have help from a Scholastic employee since this was my first fair. When it got to be noon and no one came....well....panic set in. I was almost in tears, at this point. But I plugged on.
My third rookie mistake was that I had scheduled my Teacher Preview Event for Thursday afternoon. The teachers would be coming at 2:30 to create their classroom wish lists and to have snacks. I only had a few hours to transform everything. With no Scholastic help in sight, I tried to pull it all together. And...it seems I did a decent job. The teachers came in and loved it. They were in awe of how MUCH stuff was in the fair! (Ha....never again, folks, never.) They loved the fact that I had put out "vittles" (Chex mix with added pretzels and candy corn) and chilled drinks for them. They were also in love with the Scholastic bins for their wish lists.
If you haven't seen or heard about the bins, they are a new feature this year. You need to order them. I got mine free because I was selected somehow (probably because I had a custom fair with 9 cases!!! LOL). Anyway, teachers grab a bin, pull books they want from the shelves and put inside the bins. Then, they use a dry erase marker to add their name to the bin. You make a cute display with these and it makes it easy for families to select a book to purchase for the teacher's classrooms. The teachers said they had never gotten to do this before and they had so much fun! Several of them even got in on the photo booth action, so that made it festive.
So, I survived set up. And I survived the Teacher Preview. I went home at 4:30 or so and immediately put myself in an Epsom salt bath! When I got out, I informed my husband he was in charge of dinner and then I put my feet up and put a heating pad on my back. Words cannot express the degree of soreness I felt in my body. The next day proved it to me in bruises. I was covered in them!!! They were so bad that I had to wear a long-sleeved cardigan to work so that people wouldn't think I had been abused during the night.
Friday had finally arrived and it was time for the Grandparents' Day Event. Luckily, my principal helped me secure some volunteers. Oh my gosh...these ladies were the only reason I survived this particular day! The school counselor and speech therapist worked our cash registers for two hours straight. No breaks. My principal greeted guests and also ended up bagging items when the lines wrapped around the walls. One mom volunteered as well and she was so helpful with explaining our Classroom Wish Bins to families as they entered the library. I made sure folks registered for our free prize drawings and generally ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. We probably had about 400 people in the library in about two-three hours time. We sold over $3000 worth of merchandise. It was crazy, but successful.
If you are still reading at this point, I'm grateful. I don't want anyone to think that I am anti-book fair. But, as a newcomer, I see that it is a lot of work and the profit margin is extremely small. As I write this post, I am currently at home on a Monday awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Yep. This post was about my PRE-FAIR week. The fair was supposed to start TODAY. But, Hurricane Irma decided to show up, so my school is closed today and tomorrow. That means my fair will only be two full days. On Friday, we will only be open half a day so that I can begin packing it all up. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
I see the benefit in the book fair. It gets the kids and teachers fired up about reading new books. It gave families a reason to come together over books and that is never a bad thing. But, I did have families come up to me and question the prices on items. More than one person commented about the high prices. In a Title I school, it is hard for families to buy books at $20 a pop. That is why I think the small stuff (like pencils, spy pens, rubber erasers, etc.) sell so well. And that is the last thing I want to be selling. I want to sell books. It was hard to look them in the eye and tell them that yes, that was the actual price.
One thing that did encourage me in all of this was the fact that our families supported our teachers. Many of our teachers have a big treat in store when I deliver their Classroom Wish Bins this week. These families purchased books for our teachers and some families purchased more than one. It was an awesome sight to see.
So...I'm anticipating low sales this week for the actual book fair. With only two and a half days of shopping time, I will be doing well just to get my classes all in to the book fair once. Here's to holding out hope.
It was a busy week in The Happy Library! Monday started out with the long-awaited solar eclipse and it did not disappoint. Our young students were not allowed to view the eclipse outside, but did get to watch via Discovery Education's live stream. I gave certified glasses to all of our staff and they were able to sneak out of class to take a peek at the eclipse. It was as much fun watching them act like kids as it was to watch the eclipse! Even my principal (in the pink jacket) was giddy as she tried to take selfies with the sun.
We finished up our last week of the solar eclipse centers that I shared with you in the last post. The kids still enjoyed them, but I could tell that the excitement of it all had worn off a bit. Two weeks of rotation was just enough to make this a successful activity. My third graders begged to read instead of visiting centers, which made my heart melt, so many of them chose to just sit in our quiet area or at the tables and read....it was awesome. Notice that they are loving the book buddies to read with, too.
It was also the week of the library volunteer, meaning that when I invited students to come and help in the morning, I was overrun with almost 40 students!!! Lesson learned. I had to create a little application and several teachers have stepped up to help me make selections. The 4th and 5th graders have stepped up as clear leaders. I even have a few 3rd graders who I'm going to let help with dusting, straightening, and such. I'll do a separate post on my library volunteer program once I work out the kinks. The good news in all of this is that the students want to be in the library! They are taking ownership of the space and that means so much to me. It is certainly a step in the right direction for our library program.
And a final note about the collection. If you have been following me on Instagram, you know that I'm struggling with this aged book collection. I completed a collection analysis that revealed the average age of library books in our collection is 20 years old! About 67% of the collection is nonfiction...meaning we have some great nonfiction titles but very little to offer our fiction fans. There are only three sections of fiction books to the six sections of nonfiction.
I'm also at odds with the fact that there is little in the form of quality for our youngest readers. The entirety of offerings for our newest readers can fit onto one cart and most of it is very outdated. I shared all of this with our literacy committee and the principal. As most of you know, people get nervous when you start talking about weeding a collection, but it is necessary. I've placed the first book order and can't wait to see the kids faces when the new books are out. I'm going to make a VERY BIG deal about this. More info to come...
And with the outdated collection comes the cardboard magazine box signage. This way of labeling our shelves looks good when no one is using the library. But...after one or two classes have touched the books, it is a hot mess! These things are not sturdy enough to withstand constant handling and are typically falling down or crushed in by the end of the day. Plus...they don't do much for helping the books stay "in line" on the shelves.
I am on a mission to solve this problem. But, to be honest, I'm really wanting to genrefy. It is becoming evident that students do not know how to find what they are looking for. And with my students, they almost always ask "where are the mysteries?" or "do you have any funny books?"
I would also love to get some feedback on how all of you shelve your series. As you can see, my graphic novels are shelved in with my regular fiction, as are any other series. The signage is confusing for me, so I know that the students must struggle with it. I'd love to put my graphic novels in their own location. What about series? Do you guys use bins? How do handle this in your space? Let me know!
So, that's my recap of this past week. I learned a lot. My To-Do list got longer. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Who to follow: