The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian

The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cha Cha Cha Changes: In The JCHS Library



When school started back after Winter Break our Instructional Partner, Kristi Combs, presented a great professional development session on Equity.  It got me thinking about our library services and whether we were providing equitable services to our 1800+ students. 

This had been a gnawing question at the back of my brain since our library support staff transition in October but I had never really been able to ferret it out and work with it.  What was bothering me was how students had claimed certain areas of the library as theirs and how others had claimed areas in the library and turned them into a satellite lunchroom.  These were the two main things gnawing at me.  These students were preventing other students who needed to use the library to study, work on computer, read, etc. from being able to access these services, especially during our Refuel Hour.

Spurred to action by the Equity PD, Ms. Laura Smith (ACCESS Teacher/Media Teacher), Ms. Sharon Rowland (EL Teacher), and I set about rearranging the library into zones.  When we started discussing the layout for our zones we realized that if we left any of the furniture in the same place it had been before Winter Break students would simply fall right back into their set routines. Thus, we moved every single piece of furniture that wasn’t bolted to the floor or walls!  We also made the collective decision that, although we liked students being able to eat in the library, students were taking advantage of this privilege and misusing the library as an extension of the cafeteria, therefore, we now do not allow food or drinks in the library.  This decision was also one that addressed time, resources and COST.  Our library is carpeted and spills are a commonplace thing with food and drinks. Each time the carpets are cleaned it costs the school $600.  Each day it costs the library staff valuable time cleaning up trays and food left behind, wiping down library tables, chairs and sofas, and vacuuming.  

Zone areas were determined more or less by unspoken student voice.  Over the course of the school year I had observed students and seen frustration at not having a quiet place to study and access computers as well as students looking for a place to just “chill” with their friends, check their phones, or even pull a hoodie over their face and “meditate” for a little while. 

Based on these observations we created three distinct zones in the JCHS Library.  The Quiet Study Zone includes the computer area and four round tables for spreading out textbooks, papers, and notes.  A “Chill Zone” for students who just want to chill.  And the MakerSpace Zone where students can discover, create, tinker, learn, and build. We kept the board games, card games and puzzles in the Chill Zone and reserved the MakerSpace for our more technical equipment like the 3D Printer, the Carvey, and our new sewing machine.








I then created signs to rotate on the TVs located around the school as well as a type of PSA to be read with the morning announcements.

Students, we invite you to visit the library either before eating or after eating during Refuel and to refrain from taking food into the library. The library is a unique space where you can use the computers, socialize, check out books and use the MakerSpace to create, explore and learn. Since only the library has these unique opportunities, we want to ensure that it is being used for these specific purposes. We ask that you eat in other designated eating areas, and not in the library. Thank you for your cooperation.

The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive, except for the no food rule.  Once we explain the $600 cost to clean the carpet the kids grudgingly agree that food isn’t the best idea in the library.







While our new zones have only been in place for a few days we have already noticed an increased usage of the resources that are only offered in and by a school library.  We have even had students thank us for the changes because they said they didn’t come to the library because they couldn’t access the resources they needed because of the areas that were being claimed by groups of students.

I am happy that we made these changes for the kids but will continue to observe their behavior (LOL! This is where I feel like Jane Goodall) and how they interact with the zones.  If it becomes obvious that more changes need to be made to accommodate student needs we will definitely make those changes.


When was the last time you changed the configuration of your library?









Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Escape The JCHS Library: A Library Orientation Tale

A Library Orientation Tale


Over Winter Break we rearranged the JCHS Library. I mean....really rearranged the library.  The only things that were not moved are literally bolted to the floor or walls.  Thus, when we were getting ready for the second semester 9th Grade Library Orientation I realized the entire lesson plan had to be scrapped as well.

Inspired by Breakout EDU games created by librarians, Melanie Thompson (Locked In the Library), Amy Williams (Breakout From Mr. Lemoncello's Library),  Amy Woods (The Discoveries of @2LibraryGals), Joseph Jeffery (Library Treasure), and Mia Beesley (Library Interview Breakout), I spend this past weekend revamping the library orientation lesson plan to model a Breakout EDU challenge!  It's not the best and could definitely use some tweaking but it was still a tremendous amount of fun!

My main goal for the Library Orientation activity was to make sure students knew about some of the unique features the JCHS Library has available for students.  Because we only had a little over an hour to introduce the game, complete the tasks to earn clue cards, and unlock the locks, I limited the game to just four tasks.

We began the orientation in the Harvard Room where Ms. Laura Smith introduced students to the ebooks and audiobooks we have available through the JCHS Library.  Then I reviewed the rules of the game (see slideshow HERE).  Teams then transitioned into the library with their direction sheets and the real fun began!

My awesome Student Library Aides helped with the game by overseeing the Green Screen Room and the MakerSpace.  The classroom teacher was put in charge of approving the Book Spine Poetry.  My wonderful library aide, Holly O'Neal headed assisted students tackling the Personal Shopper task.

Once all teams had collected their four clue cards we meet back in the Harvard Room.  Once back in the Harvard Room students were regrouped into four groups that represented the four tasks completed.  Clue cards earned by all teams had to be put together to find the lock combinations. Once the new teams thought they had a lock combination they came to the Breakout EDU box and tried their luck.  When all four locks were removed I had a Post It note inside the box saying CONGRATS! LOL!  Students were NOT happy when they saw the note after all their hard work.  Luckily I pulled out a box of Tootsie Pops from my hiding place just at that moment.

The best part of the day was when a student said, "I was having a really bad day today until I came in here. Now my day is awesome!"

Our next big task is taking the Personal Shopper responses and matching each student to 3-5 books that best suit them based on their Personal Shopper answers.

Below are some images of the directions students received.  I have also included my Google Slide Show and link to my Google Photo album from the day.  The lesson plan can be found HERE.  Clue cards and student instructions can be found HERE (Clue Cards were printed on bright colored paper for easy regrouping at the end).








Click image below or HERE to access Google Photo Album