The Student Book Budget Books Have Arrived!

book budget unpacking (41)

After almost two months of working on the 2015-2016 student book budget project, the books are rolling in to the library, and the excitement is brewing. This year’s budget was made possible thanks to a grant from James Patterson. Students had $5,000 to spend on books. They created a survey, surveyed the school, analyzed the results, set goals, met with vendors, compiled wish lists, cut lists to match our budget, and helped order the books.

Now the books are arriving, so students are meeting once again to go through the process of unpacking, inspecting, and marketing the books.

We have many more books than usual, so it is taking a bit longer to unpack the books. So far, we have books from Capstone and Gumdrop. Students came in by grade level for 30-minute shifts. Each company required a different process. This was mainly because we opted to not have full processing on Gumdrop books so that they would ship faster. I’m sort of regretting that decision, but it’s giving students an additional experience.

For Gumdrop, students had to apply the barcode, spine labels, and label protectors. This was tedious work for them to locate the correct labels for the correct books, and they passed this job off as often as they could since it was so time consuming. This process is still not complete, so no Gumdrop books have gone out to readers yet. We need to finish labels and check books off of the packing slip.

For Capstone, our books were already processed and ready to go. All students needed to do was unpack them, check them off the packing slip, and stamp them with the library stamp.

Additionally, Capstone let each book budget member choose one book that was their personal pick. They also sent us labels that could be put into the front of these books so that students could write their names to remind readers who selected those books.

The crew loved locating their books and applying the labels. As an added treat, they were the first to check out these books.

One student took it upon herself to start displaying the books while everyone else worked on all of the other tasks. Ajacea cleared out spaces in  the front of the library and started standing up books. If she didn’t like the way it looked, she took it all down and started over. I saw her do this more than once.

Finally, she had the idea of maximizing display space by putting books in the windows of the library facing out to the hall. There was room to put a top level and bottom level of books. She also used some of our library cushions, tables, and counter space.

It was a prime time for setting up a display because many classes were leaving lunch and walking right by the library. I saw many conversations happening in the hall about the books, and it wasn’t long before those same students were rushing back to the library to checkout what they saw.

There were moments of frantic grabbing when a whole class ended up coming to check out. The books were only on display for a little more than an hour and I would say at least half of the displayed books were checked out.

Students will come once again tomorrow to finish the books we have, and then they will reconvene when our order from Avid Bookshop arrives. I’m always inspired by how proud students are when they see their hard work pay off on unpacking day. They realize that the time they sacrificed was worth it to add more books to the library. They love getting the first look at the books, and they are amazed when the books fly off the shelves.

Ajacea stopped by at the end of the day to see what happened to her display. She had told me earlier in the day that her job would be ongoing because she would need to refill the empty spots. Her mouth dropped when she saw just how empty the windows were at the end of the day.

Our friend Amy Cox with Capstone Press followed along with our day on Twitter, and Ajacea was so proud when Amy said that she would be a great marketing intern.

Ajacea’s response? “Tell her to call me.” I love the real world implications of this project and how many times it has given an opportunity to students to explore their interests and realize that their voice is heard and matters. Bravo student book budget team!


Setting Up a New Elementary School Library (Part 3)

It’s hard to believe that the unpacking and arrangement of our new school library began only one week ago!  As of today, every box has been unpacked thanks to many hours of work from me and some dedicated volunteers.  This included working on 2 furlough days and the weekend.  There’s still a lot to do, but it’s nice to know that everything has been unpacked!

When people walk by, I often hear, it looks like you are all ready.  I’m glad that the library looks like a library as our kids enter the building tomorrow, but there are many things left to do like:

  • Setup our iMac computers for video editing
  • Setup up our morning broadcast equipment and prepare the schedule/contracts of the new crew
  • Get power and data installed to the circulation island and have technology image the new circulation computers
  • Install a wall case which includes 2 white boards and a touchscreen for ebooks
  • Finish putting together 2 computer tables
  • Put together our lego robotics area
  • Update 30 ipads and make sure they are working for the new year.  Install apps that have already been requested
  • Re-label and re-catalog over 200 books that were pulled from fiction in order to move to everybody, graphic novels, and series sections
  • Distribute 250+ netbooks to classroom teachers after shuffling them among the carts to make grades 3-5 one to one
  • Test out media center equipment and how it interacts with our new projectors before releasing it to teachers to check out
  • Create some type of signage to help students in locating the books they need.  I may get students involved with this piece soon!
  • Create orientation videos that students may use to make orientation more individualized
  • Finish setting up the teacher book room which includes guided reading books and professional books.  Also setup a self check-out/check-in area in this room
  • And several more things……

Today I want to highlight some of our areas of the library that I haven’t talked about yet.  One is circulation.  Throughout the planning of our library, I repeatedly said that I did not want a circulation desk.  We don’t have a library paraprofessional at the moment, and even if we did, we don’t sit behind a desk all day.  Instead, I wanted a self check-in area and a self check-out area with places for students to easily store books that were checked-in.  We went through many rounds of discussions and drawings, but this is what we came up with:  a circulation island.

Circulation island instead of a clunky circulation desk

Circulation island instead of a clunky circulation desk

As students enter the library, they will turn right, check in their books at the check-in computer, and store their books on one of two rolling carts stored underneath the circulation island.  If both of these carts fill up, a third rolling cart can be pulled out to replace one of the filled cart.  This third cart also stores within the island.  Once students find their books, they will stop by the opposite side of the island to check-out their books as they leave.  On the wall right behind the island, there will be casework with multiple opportunities for displaying student work and books.  There will also be a touch screen where students can browse the ebooks in our collection.  I hope that this becomes a user-friendly area for our students.


Some shelves have stools within the curves where students can sit and read or use the shelf as a counter/work space

Some shelves have stools within the curves where students can sit and read or use the shelf as a counter/work space

Another item I want to feature in our library is the multiple ways that students can sit and interact with the space.  The curves of the shelves provide opportunities to put stools, bean bags, or soft curved seating.  With stools, students can sit and read or they can face the shelf and use it as an additional workspace.  As I display books on the tops of shelves, I’ll try to leave spaces open so that students can take advantage of these workspaces without having to move all the books.

At our iMac video editing stations, students can sit on the rectangular soft seating, wobble around on a Hokki stool, or pull up a chair that can face forward or backward.  It will be interesting to see which seating gets used more than the other.

iMac video editing stations

iMac video editing stations


There are many more features that I look forward to sharing in the coming days and weeks, especially as students start to use them.


Library on Wheels

Each year, just as I get the library up and running, classes in the routine of coming to the library for lessons & checkout, and kids excited about books, the library has to “close” for two weeks. For two weeks, our students are involved in Scantron testing. This testing provides valuable information to teachers about student strengths and weaknesses as they begin the year, but testing takes place in the media center. During testing, we are only open for checkout before school and from 2-2:30 at the end of the day. It always saddens me to see kids unable to come checkout books, so this year, I’m taking the library to them. Today I filled my rolling cart with books, got my laptop and scanner, and set off to classrooms. I did an impromptu lesson using the book My Librarian is a Camel and showed how children around the world get their library books in many unique ways. Then, I spread the books out on the floor.  Students looked at the books and decided if they wanted to keep their current library books or if they wanted to exchange for a new one.  The kids were so excited, and they didn’t even seem to mind the limited selection of books that I had to offer. Since today was a success, I think my next step is to see if there are genres of books that teachers would like me to focus on in my cart when I visit their room. My time to visit classrooms is limited because I have to help with the Scantron testing, but I was overjoyed to see books leaving our library and getting into student hands. It was a mini access enabler project, and what fun it was!