="Title" content="Issues and challenges of a small library">

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Service Delivery

Valuing your time and giving the best service

To follow are three posts made to a library listserve of which I am a member. Names have been removed and my reply is at the end.
First Posting
I am wanting to know what others do with regards to their library timetables. For the past 12 years I have operated a fixed timetable, ie. each class in the school had a set library time which meant each class saw me for several weeks each term. This was done because staff wanted a regular timeslot and it did ensure I saw all classes.
However, I am seriously considering switching to a flexible timetable next year for Years 4 - 7. Teachers are becoming so busy that many of them can't fit a visit to the library in when they are scheduled to come or they forget. I am so busy that I don't chase them. They are supposed to come and see me before each term's lessons begin so that I can fit in with what they're doing, but most don't.
I guess I'm questioning the value of what I am doing and would like to know what others do with regard to scheduling of lessons. I am in a pretty big school - over 800 kids so that adds to the problem of fitting everyone in and keeping everyone happy and satisfied.
Any feedback, ideas, suggestions are welcome.
Second Posting-
I was new to the job as TL this year and have had no prior experience as I was a graduate Early Childhood teacher who was appointed to teach Preschool and do the Library. I have a fixed timetable as I thought this was the easiest for me being new to the job etc. Most classes attend, and I plan with the classroom teacher as to what they are doing etc. I am finding that I need set time to get my head around the rest of the job and catching up with loads of accessioning and covering that has been sitting here for as long as 12mths.
My younger year levels are happy to just have a book read to them and group discussion as they do not have much time for general shared reading with all the classroom requirements that have to be met these days.
I am open for any suggestions myself as I have no formal training in the library department.
Third Posting-
I know my situation is different because of the secondary department at (School Name) but I have run a flexible timetable for many years. This way I find I am working with teachers who have planned to use the library and not just using me as a baby sitting service. This way if a teacher wants to do block work in the library, say 3 or 4 sessions in a week for a couple of weeks then not again until the next trimester that's the way we work it.
The only classes that have fixed times in the library are the 1's to 3's. We find it easier for them to do it this way as we usually combine borrowing time with the lesson time and they are less likely to forget if it is a set day.
You will find some classes will rarely come, except for borrowings, under this system but over the course of their school life you will still see them and probably in a more effective way than previously.
My problem now is that since I am 0.5 NCT & relief my teachers are finding it hard to make bookings as I NEVER know which days I will be used for relief in any fortnight and the two days I know I am not used for relief are already fully booked. 'Not happy Jan' but what am I supposed to say?
My Reply-
I am in a small school this year and they are used to a very structured approach. I am only on campus 2 days per week and one day is for teaching and the other day is for admin.
So it has evolved that the timetable is structured, but it does change from term to term.

What I am finding though is that the planning and preparation for this small school takes as long as what it did in a bigger school. There is still the planning for 6 different class groups, and finding resources is quite time consuming. I am sourcing a lot of online material as our own collection is very limited, and building these into a website as I go.

I think we have to be a bit realistic on what type of service we can provide with limited resources and time. And to also be ruthless about getting rid of the stuff that is not being used or in continuing to provide services which are not utilised well.

If teachers do not have the time to visit the library or plan the sessions so they are part of their teaching and learning programme it might be time to think of more time efficient ways to support their class activities.

I am working towards this by building and collecting online resources that can be used and reused, and can be put into place when the teacher has time to involve the class in them. (It also supports them I am not on campus). The days of just popping into the library to find a few things with the class is something we cannot cater for so delivering to them in a reusable and flexible fashion might be more appropriate.

Just a few ideas, hope they help.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A new addition to the Library

Library Cats
It is a tradition that libraries have cats. Recently I was browsing on e-bay when I found the perfect cat for our library. It is now a part of our library.

There is a website dedicated to library cats around the world. Eventually I would like our cat to be a part of this website.

The idea is that this term the cat will be stimulus to generate interest in the library. It is a way for me to involve teachers in the library and to demonstrate that a teacher-librarian can do more than keep reinforcing the Dewey system and the location of resources in a library. After I explained the plan the teachers have been quite enthusiastic about the idea. One teacher has even changed her focus for the term to be Pets which was not her original plan, so that is a positive step.

This term we will be exploring the literature about cats from T.S. Elliot to fables, stories and nursery rhymes. We will look at Matthew Flinders’ cat – Trim and other famous cats in history.

As yet the library cat is unmanned and has no history. The task for the children this term is to write a story about the previous lives of this cat and to give it a name. The children could do anything really on the cat theme, from care of cats, cat poetry, cat illustrations – the ideas are endless. We will be entering into our local story writing competition with the culmination and awards in Book Week in August.

Each term I will use the cat as a stimulus and reward for good borrowers, helpers etc. and the cat can go home with a student for the holidays.

This term I am also working with the students in the computer lab – another positive step, as I did not have access to the lab last term, but with a bit of class timetable rearrangements I am able to use the lab for some research topics now. I have put together a small website for this terms activities, and some links that I will use for Cats and their Adventures.
Cat Stuff Library
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T S. Elliott
Trim the cat - the story of his voyage
Trim the remarkable cat
More on Trim

New Shelf Markers

Finding Things

The shelves needed new markers. I’ve started with Junior Fiction as they were the worst and the shelf markers we had kept falling over and were a bit tired looking.
In the past I have used video cases with the plastic insert so it is easy to slide a piece of paper inside with the appropriate shelf marking. It is easy to change when they look faded or if the shelves get rearranged. I used the Queensland font in upper and lower case on the printer to make the labels.

I will colour code the library with different coloured paper inserts. So for now the Junior Fiction is yellow. With the phasing out of video format I might have to stock up on these – DVD cases will just not do the trick for this job!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Borrowing Statistics

Library Borrowing for Term 1

On the last day of term I took the borrowing statistics for the students for the term. For a comparison of past years maybe I should have looked at those as well, but really I was just looking at a starting point for the students now. Total student loans by month are –

  • January 145

  • February 533

  • March 810

  • April 138

  • Total for the term 1626

The loans on the last day for the holiday borrowing were 70 items. That is half the school borrowed a book for the holidays. March is a whole month with 5 days when I was on campus for lessons and borrowing. The loans for each of these the days was 75, 79, 89, 90 and 83 items. The bulk of borrowing occurs from Fiction and Junior Fiction.

I still think that the children could borrow more than what is currently occurring, and with my aid in the library before school every day and availability after school when possible – an increased borrowing level is achievable. The library needs to have more of a focus, so the aim for next term is to increase the student borrowing and access to the library.

In the last staff meeting before the end of term the issue of playground supervision was discussed. There was a problem with the surveillance of some areas of the playground and the safety of the children on some new play equipment. It was looking like everyone would have an extra duty – and really none of us wanted that. I could see it looming that I was going to have an outside yard duty. I felt I would have to play my part in the supervision of the students and it would not be fair to give everyone else an extra duty and I would not have one. There is only so far that the staffing can be spread in a small school and it was decided to place some areas out of bounds in some breaks so the duties were manageable. To do yard duty was not something I wanted, as with the limited time I am on campus I did not want to be outside when I was trying to get children into the library at least for some of the lunch break. So for now the situation was resolved without me being in the playground and I can concentrate on getting the children into the library more next term.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Newsletter item

This is the item I wrote for the newsletter about holiday borrowing. The students have not been able to borrow for the holidays before so I am hoping there is some interest in this. During the last week I have been promoting the new books and have not released them for borrowing until the last week of term in anticipation that there will be a rush to borrow for the holidays. The Captain Underpants books are ready and I hope they don’t even hit the shelves but are borrowed straight away. There has been a bit of interest in these.

Holiday borrowing from the library
During the Easter break the children can borrow from the school library. The last day for borrowing will be Thursday 6th April.
If however, you are going camping, staying in a holiday unit or travelling to visit family and friends, it is probably not a good idea to borrow.

Some children are still coming to the library without a library bag, and although they have been allowed to borrow if the book is placed in a homework folder, this does not give the book much protection from water damage. Many of our hardcover books cost $30.00 so we need to look after them well.

Some new books have been made ready for borrowing and these will be available for holiday reading.

Happy holiday reading everyone.

Ms. A Teacher-librarian.