Monday, December 7, 2015

Oh, Tannenbuch... Or the Evolution of a Book Tree

Making a book tree is not a new thing.  We saw it on a twitter or or instagram posting somewhere and decided to give it a try in 2012.  It has now become a tradition to which the students anticipate; they begin asking us about it in mid-November.

Here in Germany, the Christmas tree is called a Tannenbaum.  Since ours is made of books, it has affectionately become our Tannenbuch.  

The first year we built it on a pallet and added a helium balloon star.  It wasn't very tall, very stable, nor very pretty. But it was a hit. And those are actual library book gifts around the base.  (See this post for the details.)

After studying photos of other book trees online, we were more purposefully in our construction and decided to build a "green" tree the next year.  It was quite fun to pull all the green books - far more fun to pull than to reshelve them later.

Year three saw the addition of a little red and a base made of old encyclopedias.

This year we added a little blue for our school colors and built it a little taller.  We have begun housing unused textbooks in the library, and our anti-lumberjack (the name we have for the assistant who builds the tree each year) found that having a surplus of thick, uniform books made construction simpler and more stable. 

No one remembers why, but our tree has become an exercise in estimation.  Students of all grades, as well as staff, are each allowed one educated guess at the number of books used. Prizes have varied from books to movie cards to book fair vouchers. We have done this since year one - but that year we could not give the prizes until we returned from vacation, dismantled the tree, and counted the books.  The next year we grew wiser.  

We now have a patron named Christmas Tree, and every book used in construction is scanned out to Tree.  This method provides an accurate count of books (without actually counting, and marks all of Tree's books as unavailable so we no longer scour the room looking for a book that turns out to be the cornerstone.

Our tree started at one end of the library in 2012 and has moved its way, a little each year, across our space to its present location, right next to the front door.  

So I have to wonder, where will we put it next year?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sailing into a New School Year

Back to school week for staff….  I have found that whether or not I address teachers during this first week has a dramatic impact on how the rest of my year goes.  The years I do not have the opportunity to introduce myself and speak about my role in supporting theirs, I have fewer teacher requests.

I recognize that the minutes in the work week are precious, and there are many requirements that directors and principals must pack into a limited amount of time.  When I am allotted time, it typically is the slot that follows several must-be-presented bits of information, and it is slowly whittled down as each speaker before me runs over his/her time limit.  And, I usually present just before a break or lunch.

This year was no different.  The library’s slice of the week came on Day Two, following the German lawyer who shared data protection laws and was asked numerous what-if scenario questions as well as the Operations Manager who shared the changes in our fire drill procedures. The library presentation was left with the final five minutes before mid-morning break.  Teachers had been sitting for over a day, absorbing information.  To be heard, we had to be different.  So we were. And we finished at the top of the hour, right on time for break!

The idea for this presentation started with a bit of a vent to my fellow librarian, followed with a comment that telling her my woes was like preaching to the choir.  She said she gets it.  She’s on the same page.  She’s in my boat. And that’s when the little lightbulb over my head began to glow.  This little skit began as some scribbled notes last spring that I ruminated on over the summer.  Last week my kids helped me build the boat, and then we recruited two teachers. It's not flawless. We had only one shot.  But people are still talking about it. Both my own kids and several staff have suggested we tailor an encore performance for the first student assembly.  I guess that means we'll just keep paddling until everyone's on board!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Technology & Student Authors

What do you do with student-authored books?

The Problem

I used to cringe when students brought in their treasures to share.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy reading their creations.  Students write wonderful stories.  I love them!  The problem was that I didn't have a good place to store their books or a system for circulation.

Student authored books are generally thin paperbacks, and they disappear into the stacks if shelved among hard cover editions.

Another problem was that I didn't know whether to actually let them circulate.  How would other students treat these books?  What if a little sibling tore or wrote on it?

At my current school, students LOVE to write.  Many students write books as part of their action for the PYP Exhibition, and our collection is growing.  When I first arrived there were a few titles on the shelves, and by the end of the first year we had nearly a dozen books written by students.  The collection continued to grow, but no one (beyond the author, his/her parents, and teacher) knew they existed.

Our Solution

Seeing the cover is critical for circulating student-authored books, so they now have their own acrylic display stand.  It is located in a prominent location, on a low shelf, just as you enter the Media Centre.  It is at eye level for most primary students.

The Procedure

When a student has a book they would like circulated through the library, they can either bring in a hard copy or email a soft-copy.  Hard copies are first scanned into a PDF version and then the pages are bound with a comb binding and clear cover (to show off the student's artwork); soft-copies are printed and bound. The cover is saved as a jpg.  Then the books are barcoded and added to our catalog.  After changing it several times, we settled on STUDENT AUTHORS as the call number.  This allows us to move the display around.

As part of our processing, most books are uploaded to our library's ISSUU account.

Within the record is a link to the ebook version:

Of the 13 titles on ISSUU, statistics show they have been read 87 times!  That beats the print copy stats fourfold.

One of the things I love best is how the students treat each other's work.  Reverent is the word that comes to mind. Students almost always ask if they may borrow them and take the books home - no assumptions are made - and they all seem to treat this as a special gift.  Thus far, all books have come back intact and on time.