Thursday, September 18, 2014

Such a procrastinator.

Yes, I know.  I haven't posted in forever.  I really don't mean to be lax, I just have been super busy.  And to be honest, I felt like this blog was more for me than anything.  I mean, who really wants to read about my library and my wacky ideas.

But, then one day on Pinterest I saw something that blew me away.  Someone had pinned a picture from my blog.  People see this??  Wow.  So I'll continue to post my ideas and see what happens.  I don't have a lot of time right now to go into depth, and I need to get better pictures of a few things, but here is the most fun idea I've had in a while.

I hate my barcode scanner.  It is old and the grip is coming off.  I've used the brand new ones at the public library and they make me soooo jealous!  So I have tried to come up with a way to jazz mine up.  This is what I settled on:
This is my scanner's new look.  He's a proper English butler, and he's always on hand to help me with my work.  His name is Sir Reginald.  The kids think he's hilarious and he was so easy to make!  I used googly eyes and buttons to make his eyes.  I didn't intend for the monocle look, but it came out that way with the bigger button.  I had the little mustache magnet on hand so I added it for fun.  The pieces are attached with Velcro  so I could easily change out his features.  Oh, and the leopard at the top of the screen is the one I am hoping to use on our library's home page, I just need the artist's permission.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The spoils of holiday travel!

I was extremely excited to go traveling for Christmas this year.  My parents live 7 hours away so I figured I'd find treasures in their stores that I hadn't looked at 20 times like the stuff in the thrift stores up here.  My first find was in my mom's kitchen.  She had a small lava lamp sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  I asked if it was broken and she said that it wasn't, she just didn't use it any longer.  So I snagged that.  I did have to buy a new bulb for it but it works perfectly and looks great after a little clean-up.  I think it will be a curiosity piece.  Instead of telling them how it works, I'll show them how to look it up in a book or more likely, online.  The chances of me having a book about how lava lamps work sitting on the shelf is slim to none.

I was frustrated at the thrift stores we visited because everything on display was Christmas!  And there's nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't what I was looking for.  Hobby Lobby, arguably one of the coolest stores ever, had a lot of things that were very cool but were either breakable or too expensive.  I did find 5 posters in their clearance section I couldn't leave without:
1.  The Presidents of America - current, all portraits in sepia
2.  The Human Body - like what you'd see in a doctor's office
3.  The Periodic Table - with actual pictures of each mineral, and if the mineral couldn't be photographed, the person who discovered it.
4.  Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon
5.  Shark species - in proportioned size

And my final treasure is one I'm extremely excited about.  It's a model of the human heart I found at a thrift store for $1.50.  The pieces are still attached to the little pegs, so it's never been put together.  It's dated 1973, that makes it 40 years old!  I was slightly disappointed to see that I have to take the time to paint it and then glue it, but it will be worth it when complete.  It can even be taken apart to show how different parts of the heart work.  I think I might invest in a glass dome to display it in so it doesn't get dusty.

My other big treasure from the trip is actually an idea.  Remember the oak card cases I wanted to turn into an I Spy Dewey Decimal Display?  Well, I realized on the trip that I was biting off more than I could chew.  Some of the sections of Dewey are too hard to represent with objects and if I collect them here and there for 5 years I still might not have enough to create the display.

I recently read "Wonderstruck" by Brian Selznick and I was enthralled with the idea of the Cabinet of Wonders.  What if I used those cases to create my own cabinet?  They lock and have clear lids, they would only need a few tweaks to make them work.  Now the part I hate.  I am not supposed to use power tools (my husband fears for my life) and so I am reliant on him and my father-in-law to rework the cases so I can use them.  I'd like cubbies built in so that when the cases are displayed upright each object has it's own little area.  I want a mix of sizes too - in case some objects are larger than others.  Since I have limited control over the exact construction of the cases, I am starting to think about what kind of wonders I want to put into it.  So far I have:
1.  a small wasp's nest that has been in the freezer for 6 months, just in case
2.  2 or 3 pieces from my fossil collection
3.  seashells
4.  this very weird lizard-foot-thingy
Someone left it at the public library and the other librarian on duty said it was too creepy to keep in the lost and found drawer, so I brought it home.  I think it's real.  The scales on the palm side of the foot are too detailed to be anything but.  It's the kind of thing to really get little boys asking questions.

I am bursting at the seams wanting to go out hiking this spring and summer.  I'd like to find some bones or feathers or even lake glass to display.  Who knows what I will find.  My mother-in-law mentioned she has a screech owl in her yard.  I wonder if I can find any owl pellets?
-owl pellets
-bones of small animals
-turtle shell
-snake skins

I am sure I'll come up with more ideas of things to look for.  And maybe once I have the case up, people will donate items to the display.  Those are ideas for "natural" display items but I could have any number of items in the display.  I even have my dad's old slide rule, it would require a taller cubbie, but it's something most kids wouldn't be able to identify without help.  It would be cool to learn to use so I could teach the kids.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future....

Wow, it's hard to keep up with everything.  The holidays have made things extra busy around here, but I have accomplished some major goals:
The new shelves are in!
 First we had to move a few sections at a time.  Thankfully 4 sections were light enough to move with the books on them.  The big section, under the bulletin board, was too heavy to move without taking the books off of it.
 One thing I noticed while we were in the transition phase was that I liked the "pony wall" effect of the shelves in front of the couch area.  The only problem was I couldn't see through them to know if they kids were putting their feet on the coffee table or what books were in their hands.

After we got all the blue shelving moved, I donated 2 of the shelf sections to teachers who needed them.  One became my new periodical shelf, and one was relocated to a spot by my desk and houses the alphabet books and I Spy books.  I've moved a good chunk of the books from nonfiction that are below a 2.5 level.  Some aren't AR and we had to guess, but my volunteers and I are doing pretty well with it.  There are more than I anticipated and that is one of the reasons we moved the alphabet books and I Spy onto another shelf.  We just don't have room.  Now the books are arranged much more closely to Dewey Decimal.  Things don't always stay perfect and we don't sort the animal books exactly - bugs and spiders are together, fish, birds, and mammals have their own little sections.

The maintenance man wanted to demolish the largest section of shelves, but I had other ideas.  It is the perfect size to act as my pony wall and only need a few repairs.  I was surprised when it was brought back to me, freshly painted!  It is now my display wall, where I will display any odds and ends that might inspire the kids to ask "where, what, why, how & who?"  This is a slow process of course, since there isn't a "inspiring curiosity" line in the school budget.
Visually the design of the shelf is very appealing and I love how it looks.  It gives a nice pop of bright blue (our school's main color).  Right now it has our globe on it.  I am hoping to add more globes from different time frames to the display.  Globes out date quickly because of the political changes in our world, but why not have them from different times in history so kids can see the difference?  The topographical globe I already have - it has raised mountain ranges - is old enough to still say U.S.S.R.  A more current one would make it easier to show the kids how the political map changes while the physical continents remain static.
The other addition to the shelf was this little guy.  Isn't he awesome!  He's actually from Disney World's Animal Kingdom Dinoland.  I would guess that a toy this big (the size of my cat) cost at least $30 in the theme park.  His legs can be posed and he has the coolest texture on his skin.  I found him at a thrift store for $2.50.  His horn was bent so I doctored it up and his frill was ripping away from his shoulder, so that got fixed too.  The kids can't get enough of him.  I have a student with cerebral palsy in one of the kindergarten classes.  He loves one on one interaction and textures.  I asked him, "Have you ever wanted to hold a dinosaur on your lap?"  I sat the dinosaur on his lap and his eyes got so big!  Then I placed his hand on the dinosaur's lap and he giggled.  I am so excited that he responded so well.  Even our principal can't resist reaching out and petting the dinosaur as she goes through the library.

Many of the kids have asked what kind of dinosaur he is, and I have had a few kindergarten paleontologists tell me that he is a triceratops, but he isn't.  I did some research into what dinosaurs are featured in the theme park ride and the only one that fits him is the Styracosaurus.  Here is the wikipedia link on this type of dinosaur. (Yes, I know wiki isn't the greatest source but I can't link into our school's online encyclopedia.)  I was thinking it would be a lot of fun to have a contest where the kids fill out slips with their guesses as to what kind of dinosaur he is.  After a certain time frame I would take all the correct guesses and draw randomly for them for a winner.  I have a cute dinosaur board book that would win for the K, 1 & 2 winner but I'd have to find something for the 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 winners.

Another great idea that my nieces shared with me is that at their school, each month you get to enter your name in for a drawing for a book.  If you check out 2 books you get 2 slips for the drawing box.  My niece won a copy of Rick Riordan's "House of Hades" last month.  I went through my books and I have some I could use for prizes, but probably not enough to do monthly drawings.  I think it would be okay to do a drawing at Christmas time and a drawing at the end of school in the spring.  If we have a summer program it would be a nice incentive for that too.  I will have to do more thinking on it.

I also went ahead and made a wreath for a fun "Charlotte's Web" display.  The first grade classes read it each year, so it's a school favorite.
The spider web is made of kite string and I used a heavier string to add the letters for "Some Pig".  I added the raffia to look like hay, the story takes place in a barn after all. The kids sometimes don't see it right away.  Then they ask, "What's that supposed to be?"  I added Wilbur (using a great drawing I found online) and that helps some.  The last step will be to make Charlotte herself.  She needs to be soft and gray.  I bought some little poof balls to make her and our cat stole them.  So she's not there yet, but she will be.

One last thing to share.  The teachers had an after school get together and made crayon wreathes.  Mine was the last completed but I love how it turned out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Where has the time gone?

I'm shocked to see my last post was back at the beginning of September, but truth be told, I have been a busy little librarian!
I've been buying books, lots and lots of books!  I started off with my wish list of books I'd compiled over the summer from reading reviews in Publisher's Weekly.  Then I started picking up stuff the kids had requested.  Note to other librarians: if you put a direction sign with "Gotham City" on it up in your library, the kids will hound your mercilessly until you get some Batman books.  I was able to get them in the 2.5-3.9 range as well as 4.0 and above (AR levels).

My latest project ('cause I don't have enough on my plate) has been to rework the dreaded green-dot section.  The first step was to sort the books and remove anything over a 2.5 AR level.  This section is where kindergartners and first graders get most of their books as well as second graders with low AR levels.  How terrible do I feel telling a child, "You can't take the one and only book I have about leopards because it's a level 7.2."  I also think there was so much in that section that the kids were mistreating the books without even realizing it.  The next step was to work in the Nonfiction section getting everything with AR available labeled - our school district has unlimited use of tests, so no worries about whether or not we own that test.  Now that we know what most of the books are AR-wise, we can start pulling lower level stuff to move over to the revamped "J Nonfiction" section.  I did get permission to order my new shelves and I'm so excited for when we get them installed!

I also decided that I needed to create a section for kids just starting to read, like high-reading kindergartners and first graders.  These books are not nonfiction so I created a new classification called "JrE".  JrE books are usually below 1.5 AR level or extremely simple (think Dick and Jane books).  They also have a green dot but will be located in their own shelf. 

On the lighter side, I had a lot of fun decorating for Halloween:
This is Charlotte.  The kids loved her and I was constantly telling them to leave her web alone.  I am thinking of making a more permanent display for she can weave "Some Pig" into her web with no worries of little fingers touching it.
The animals got into the Halloween spirit!  Pooh is dressed as Tigger, Franklin is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the Cat (from If You Give a Cat a Cupcake) is a red cardinal, the Pig (from If You Give a Pig a Pancake) is the Phantom of the Opera, the Mouse (from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) is a cat and the Moose (from If You Give a Moose a Muffin) has on a sunburst mask.  I made them quickly using yarn, craft foam and permanent markers.
I went a little batty behind my desk.  For $5 I got a set of multi-sized vinyl wall cling bats from Target.  Then we cut bats from black construction paper, curled their wings and added them to the mix.
Now that Halloween is over I have to be a touch more serious...yeah, right!  The kids have been begging for the new Wimpy Kid book, Hard Luck.  I finally created a hold list and put this up since I only bought 5 copies to satisfy 500 kids!

And finally, I was bored with my Choose Your Own Adventure bulletin board so I decided to have some fun with a new one.  I totally lifted this idea from another librarian but I did mine a little different:
Here is the inspiration (above.)  I copied the phrase exactly when I did the board.
So, why is the phrase different now?  Well I work in a building with teachers, a.k.a. grammar police.  Apparently the word There's doesn't point to the word minion, it points to reasons, so the correct phrase is, There are a minion reasons to read.  I also made my board a little differently.  I went online and found coloring pages of minions I liked and an image of a stack of books.  Then I copied them onto transparency sheets.  Then we turned the entire school upside down looking for a transparency machine.  There was only 1 left in the entire school - thank you to our Art Teacher!  The design was done on a solid sheet of white in pencil and then retraced in black marker.  I originally thought I'd have time to color it in but never got it done.  I kind of like it this way.  Oh, and I'm extra proud of the titles of the books.  I searched my library catalog for titles with Apple and Banana in them, since what else would minions want to read about?

The kids love the board so much that I think I might have a minion themed Christmas tree this year.  I could have each child color a minion for my tree since they are all my "reading minions."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Progress, it's happening!

I am excited to see progress at the library!  I'm working with one of my awesome volunteers to go through all the books and anything that isn't marked AR (Accelerated Reader) is being checked.  If there is a test, I print the label and get the book updated in the catalog.  If it isn't, we mark it NOT AR inside the front cover.  We are working through the picture books right now and are halfway through the collection.  We do still have to do Fiction, Junior Fiction, Special Collections and Nonfiction as well.

Another great idea that I've been shown by the middle school librarian in town is to add the volume number to the spine labels of books in a series.  Her labels look like this:

vol. 1

I would switch the author name to RIO but I very much like the idea of putting the volume number on the label instead of relying on the book to have it on the spine already, and I'd love to relabel the books that have the number written on them in marker - it just looks terrible.

So those are two big projects to work through and I need to do some kind of inventory where I can see each book, and how it is cataloged.  If I go through and scan each book, I can make necessary updates and relabel the ones that need it.  I have a Macbook on a rolling cart to do this with, I don't even have to pull whole sections at a time!

I'm also excited because I have asked my principal if I can replace the shelves where my "green dot" books are.  It is a large section of homemade shelving that has seen better days.  The shelves are all about hip height even though the bulletin board is only behind 4 of the 7 sections.  The shelves are also a bunch of different heights and the books just don't fit right.  She is all for it and after I did a bunch of looking, I thought I could replace the section for about $2000.  She suggested we spend more money and get 3 taller shelves and 4 short shelves.  They are all going to be the same style and will match my existing shelves better than what I have now.  I can't wait!

But on the sad side, I did have to ditch the solar system idea, at least for now.  I discovered that it was a lot harder to make them with the yarn than I thought it would be.  So until I find a better solution, no solar system.  At least not a 3D one - I found a very nice solar system poster on clearance at Target for $1.78!!  I took it to school and laminated it.  I also made a cute little information plaque to go with it.  Remember when there were 9 planets?  We learned a fun mnemonic: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (or something like that).  I put it onto the poster with little pictures of each of the planets, then under that I put, "But wait, since Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet, how about if we say: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles."  I also put one last line about finding the planets in the 520s of nonfiction. 

I kind of went on a poster rampage this week.  We had an early out on Wednesday for teacher inservice.  The paras (me included) were given the choice to do busy work after school got out or take the afternoon off.  Since my husband took the day off, I was able to stay and work.  I spent the afternoon emptying out the storage cupboards and drawers.  I mostly sorted through bulletin board type materials, but I also found a lot of really nice library posters.    I got rid of about half of the decorations.  I just don't think I'll make use of tablecloths and place mats that are holiday themed.  I wouldn't decorate my home that way so I won't decorate my library that way.  I also got rid of outdated materials like a presidential portrait set that only goes as high as George Bush (the first one.)  I'll never be able to find matching Clinton through Obama so I figured why keep it?  I then took down all of the nonfiction informational posters on the shelves.  There is a fairly new set of Rubber Ducky nonfiction posters I moved from the ends of my shelves up onto the wall above Nonfiction.  Then rather than bombard the kids with yet another set of nonfiction posters, I laminated and hung posters from inside the DK Eye Witness Books.  I found posters for Battle (which covers soldiers from all periods of history), the Titanic (need I say more, the kids eat that stuff up) and Treasure (really archeology.)  I also laminated a poster on mummies of all kinds but because there is a photograph on it of a natural ice mummy, I chose not to hang it.  I think it might freak out the little kids.  But the sixth grade classes do a unit on mummies later in the year and I've already offered to loan it to them. 

I have a few more posters to get laminated but I see no reason why they all have to be "READ" oriented.  Yes, the library is about reading but it is also a source of science, math, history, and everything else in between.  Why not inspire the kids to dive into those stacks and find a book or two about the types of things they see on my posters?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A librarian's work is never done!

It's been a few weeks since school started, and I think I might be getting into the swing of things.

In the first full week of school I had it pointed out to me that I need to work on classroom techniques - i.e. getting the kids to listen to me when I tell them to be quiet, line up correctly, etc.  It upset me at the time (it was my Principal who came to talk to me, so yeah) but now I see that it's true.  I'm a librarian, not a teacher.  So I've been working with the kids on their library manners.  The majority of the classes know how to behave, but I've got a few issues to deal with. 

The biggest problem I have is my 6 tables in the library.  Each table has 4 chairs, and ideally only 4 children will sit at each table.  They shouldn't be clustered together, which we all know leads to whispering, which leads to talking, which leads to me shushing them.  The other issue I have is that when I let kids check out books, there is always one kid who needs 30 seconds to find his books and then one who needs almost the whole class period and my help to find her books.  So how do I help 24 kids find books while there is a line forming at my desk waiting for checkout.  And mind you, the line isn't quiet and the kids in it aren't patient. 

My friend Raynette suggested that I label each table.  After the kids find their books they go sit down BEFORE they go to my desk.  Once everyone has a book I can then call them up by table to check out.  This is a very good system.  So I figured, why not solve to problems at once?  I used the school die-cut machine - best resource ever - and cut 5 circles of each color.  The tables now have a central dot with a cute saying (that I totally stole from Risking Failure!)
Red any good books lately?
Orange you glad you read good books?
Yellow books are just ducky!
It's not easy being green...
Don't be blue.  Check out a good book!
Books are grape!
I then added the other four dots of each color in front of the four seats for that table.  So now, each child should have a dot directly in front of them when they sit at the tables in the library.  There is no reason for any of them to sit between any of those dots since there are extra spots to sit scattered all over the library.  It was a quick project I threw together on Friday before our Homecoming pep rally.  I can't wait to try it out with the kids on Monday morning!

In other news, I've decided to try a different approach with the solar system model.  I still want to do one but I don't have the time to invest into making them out of yarn.  It's a bummer but there are only so many hours in a day.  I am now thinking I'll find paper lanterns online and buy varying sizes.  I can get basic colors for each planet and then add pain effects to make them look more planetary.

I'm also still working on amassing the objects I need for my I Spy Dewey display.  The kids and I even found a small wasps' nest over the summer for it.  We sealed it into a plastic bag and then froze it (just in case!).  I need to start putting the objects in so I can see what I need to find to complete the different sections.  Once I get it all together then I'll take it to school and ask our maintenance man to help me find a way to display them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finishing touches - school starts in t-minus 3 days!

So I'm finally feeling like I'm maybe ready to be a school librarian!  I have 3 days left until school starts.  In that time I need to create my class lists, finalize my schedule, do some cataloging and then shelf the books.  I really think I have done a good job with the library.

I finished up early last week with the weeding.  I wasn't able to clear quite enough room in Jr. Fiction to get all the books on their appointed shelves, but once check outs start, it should be okay.  My solution was to pull large series from the shelves (waist high) and put them on top with book ends.  This should increase the series' visibility and maybe up their circulation.  I didn't have to weed much in the E Books, just shelf reading and shifting.  I have seen signs that say "Easy Books" but they are more like the picture books that I would read to my kids, not necessarily easy.  Also, I don't want to discourage older kids from choosing from that section if they just want to read for the fun of it, so I'm thinking about making a sign in the future that says, "E for Excellent Books".

I finished my bulletin board last Friday.  I was inspired by this idea from Rachel Moani:

She didn't give a lot of details of how to make it, but I think I got it to work okay. I used a water heater box and used roll paper to cover the pieces.  After I attached the book pages to the end pieces I glued down 1 sheet of white paper.  Then I cut a second piece and only glued it at the spine.  Then I was able to add my letters (love the die-cut machine at the school!) and art.  As you can see, the book wouldn't actually go on my board.  It's too big and heavy.  My solution was to use book display stands to prop it up on the bookshelf directly below the bulletin board.  Then I put up the pictures I colored of different types of adventure.  To finish it off, I used the label making machine to create the story choices like the ones found in the Choose Your Own Adventure books.  The finishing touch was to display some of our Choose Your Own Adventure books beside the board - how many kids have never even tried this type of book?  I'm hoping to have a few try them and like them since I enjoyed them so much as a young reader.

I finally found Yoda!  I had turned the house upside down on multiple occasions looking for him, but for some reason never looked in one particular frame.  I thought there was no way he could be in it since it was bought specifically for a map of the cave system in Keystone, South Dakota.  My husband convinced me to look and I found him!!!  I went out today and bought him a new frame and he looks awesome!  You'd never guess he's 30 years old.  I would love to eventually find a copy of the ALA poster of the Muppets released around the same time.
This one is not cheap.  I found some on but I think I'll have to wait for them to become a little cheaper.  I am hoping to purchase these two posters from the ALA Store with some of the money I make with this year's book fair:
And speaking of the Muppets (yeah, I know I'm a total nerd) I got super lucky yesterday.  I decided to log in to Disney Movie Rewards and check for new rewards.  I almost never have any luck.  I always find something I want and don't have enough points, so I save up my points and then the item I wanted is out of stock....grrrr.  But yesterday I logged in and found a 15" Kermit plush!
He's not the super high quality one I wanted, but he was free.  If you don't do the Disney Movie Rewards program you are missing out!  You don't even have to pay shipping.

With school starting so soon I had to go through the kids clothes and figure out what I needed to buy.  I found my daughter's Mo Willem's Pigeon t-shirt.  She doesn't wear it anymore and I could have put it into the box of t-shirts that will eventually become a t-shirt quilt, but then I decided to get some more use out of it.  I didn't want to sew it into a pillow and I didn't want to have to buy a frame.  So I came up with this:
I had the canvas on hand - I think I found it for a dollar at the thrift store and never found a use for it.  Then I just pinned it into place with straight pins.  I do wish it had been a smidge smaller canvas - in order to center the pigeon, I had to leave some of the neck line on the t-shirt visible.  But the stuffed pigeon who lives at my school can perch up there and it will look great.

I have a new board on Pinterest too!  It's a Library Wishlist.  I mostly have artwork I'd like to work in at the library, but you never know what I'll pin to it in the future!