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.

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