Good news week?

A quick blog entry to share two new purchases:

This metal newspaper rack was picked up in a St Clair bargain ship for $19.99. At the moment, it’s holding some copies of last year’s Premier’s Reading Challenge honour roll inserts.

This “Imagine” sign was already painted white. Not a bad find at $9.99, also at St Clair.

We actually spent today – between teaching – attempting to consolidate two poster racks, jammed full of posters, into one. A job we never attended to, even when we had the racks in storage while the new BER library was being built. Lots of the posters are terribly dated, especially the ones from the late 60s. A few we are keeping for pure nostalgia value.

When the rectangular-frame rack is empty, I plan to turn it into a puppet theatre. The other rack, which has crossbars, should hold what’s left of the posters, but I still think it’s an efficient storage method. The posters have had call numbers for many years, but were never accessioned. We hope to add a brief record for each to OASIS. It’s been frustrating that no posters appear in a subject hearing search. We aren’t going to go too overboard, though, because once every classroom has an IWB, posters in classrooms may well become obsolete.

I shall keep you posted on some other, upcoming “good news”…

The “What drives me crazy and how can I fix it immediately?” method

Recently, on the TL listservs, we were asked to comment on how we displayed series titles, and how we decided which series would become designated special sections and which would be interfiled with the main collection. I decided I usually use the “What drives me crazy and how can I fix it immediately?” method.

At this school, “Where’s Wally?” books are almost-always out on loan, or if they are “in”, they are all off the display and being read at lunchtimes. In the new library, I have a special, decorated shelf for “Where’s Wally?” books.

I found Wally, er, Waldo

Thanks to a bit of laminating (the cover of an old “Where’s Wally: the magnificent poster book”) and a big, blue-painted MDF “W” from Spotlight (or Lincraft), the display still looks good even if every Wally book is “out”:

Where's Wally? poster rack

“Quick Reads” are on a spinner rack and include a pot pouri of “Aussie bites”, “Aussie nibbles”, “Aussie chomps”, “Skinnys”, “Solos”, “Out of this world”, “Hotshots”, “Crazy tales” and “Billy Kool”, etc.


Our three levels of “Premier’s Reading Challenge” books are also in their own sections.

In the old library, the previous TL was driven crazy by the popularity of “Goosebumps”, so I created a dedicated shelf in Fiction for Stine’s “Goosebumps” series, mainly because otherwise the frantic rummaging for those titles made a complete mess out of the regular “S” shelf. The dedicated display was actually on an empty “G” shelf, but in the new library, “Goosebumps” (more were donated!) take up two whole shelves called “STI – Goosebumps”, situated between the “R” and “T” shelves, and decorated by a hideous, life-sized, Halloween skull.

Goosebumps skull

In my previous two libraries, we had dedicated sections for “Dr Seuss” books and “Choose-Your-Own Adventures”, because those books were extremely popular at the time.

Finding feathers for Phoebe

This year, ALIA’s annual National Simultaneous Storytime event is Feathers for Phoebe by Rod Clement. Phoebe is a small grey bird who gets herself decorated in colourful feathers, and develops a new song and new moves, in order to attempt to get noticed. We plan to do this as a whole school event, probably split across four groups.


I was thrilled to notice some black-painted wooden bird templates in a local “Sam’s Warehouse” bargain store (at $4.00 each), which I’ve since painted with grey enamel. I hope to have one decorated in feathers in time for the big event on 25th May at 11.00am.

Phoebe feathers

Yesterday, I found a great little mask, decorated with peacock-feathers and sequins, which should prove useful as part of Phoebe’s new look. Numerous bargain stores sell packets of assorted feathers for craft work – and then I found these cute little styrofoam birds, already decorated with sequins, gold tinsel and coloured feathers, at just $3.00 each:

Phoebe birds

It figures that I’d find a dodo!

Alice in Wonderland figurines from Kaiyodo
Clockwise, from top left: Dodo, Alice, Humpty Dumpty, Gryphon, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Mock Turtle, White Rabbit.

I ran across eighteen Kaiyodo “Alice’s Adventures in Figureland” for display in the school library last night. I collect dodos – and have always coveted my late uncle’s larger Royal Doulton ceramic dodo, based on John Tenniel’s design, from the Lewis Carroll novels (“Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the looking glass”). This little dodo was hanging on the front of a peg in a favourite toy shop – and I loved the quality of these irresistible little figures. I accidentally picked the right Alice (out of four possibles), too; when I got her home, I realised she came with half of Humpty’s wall. Today, I glued them all to a wooden base and grassed it with model railway “grass”.

More “Alice” stuff on my other blog can be found HERE (Scroll down)

I drew this dodo in 1981:
Dodo sketch by Ian McLean, 1981

I bought this beautiful ceramic one, by a local artist, in the early 80s:

Papo brand plastic dodo figurine:
Papo plastic dodo model

And here’s my holy grail from Royal Doulton:
Royal Doulton dodo

Time to exterminate?

Dalek clock
What’s the time on Gallifrey?

I’ve had a few people ask me about the library’s Dalek clock from “Doctor Who”. Now, I’m an avid “Star Trek” fan, but I couldn’t find a suitable Stardate clock (although there were some around in the 1980s, usually liquid crystal displays and probably too small as an effective wall clock). The Dalek clock is quite challenging to tell the time with – even for my adult patrons – as it only has one hand.

A great conversation starter, as indeed are almost all my eclectic artifacts in the new library.

Sock it to me!

Fish wind sock

Last year, I spied these large fish wind socks hanging from the awning of Goldfish, a gift store in Berry, in southern NSW. They came in a rainbow of colours, but I had to wait to see what contrasting colour choices I would have in the finished BER library. My selection: green, like the doors!

I couldn’t help but buy myself a rainbow lorikeet wind sock as well. It’ll come in handy when the K-2 students study “How the birds got their colours”:

Parrot wind sock

Keji and Wally: store and display

Keji Sorted's Blitz plastic storage box and lid

I am really enjoying my Blitz plastic storage box and lid by Keji Sorted (above, from Office Works)!

Don’t you hate it when you send out a class of avid library borrowers, only to realize that one of them has borrowed that wonderful book you were using with the class – or worse, your next class? At least that’s traceable through OASIS Library, but what if they merely looked at the book… and then reshelved it incorrectly, somewhere in the library?

I knew I needed some kind of little table, desk or box next to my ergonomic chair, but this lime-green, plastic storage cube (or rectangular prism) is the perfect height, and is colour-matched to the library’s door trim. I can load the box up with the resources I will be using over the week – books, pictures, my timetable, sample library bags, teaching aids, etc – and they stay safely together until I need them.

Where's Wally? poster rack

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had set up a beautiful display of all of the library’s “Where’s Wally” books late last year but, in the first week of borrowing this year, the highly-motivated student borrowers have cleaned me out! Luckily, I found a giant-sized Where’s Wally?: the magnificent poster book I’d had at home for over a decade, and finally succeeded in finding the inclination to separate the eleven posters within. I had them laminated, made the little checklists into laminated cards, and used the cover art to set up a backup display. My concept is to make good use of the new poster rack we received as part of the BER, and have plenty of Wally items that can be used at lunchtimes. Our library picture collection hangs on two perfectly good racks of their own, and just need a good cull and better cataloguing to work effectively (although the coming of interactive white boards is definitely causing a decline in poster use by the teachers.)

I’ve also found a new boxed set of Wally books with a free jigsaw puzzle included. Now I might have the students outnumbered! Maybe.

Stuck on you: going dotty


Wondering what is good for affixing signage and other decore to the fabric walls of your BER school library?

I can highly recommend getting a supply of “hooks only” Velcro dots (eg. from official education suppliers or your local Office Works), and even a long rolled strip of “hooks only” Velcro, if you can find it (eg. Lincraft, Spotlight). If you have to get the long accompanying “fuzzy” strip as well, use it up with some more “hooks only” Velcro dots on hard walls in other locations of the school.

The dots are usually self-adhesive and are best for laminated signage, student/class work on cardboard, and even MDF lettering. The strips of fuzzy Velcro can be glued along the back of light, plastic photo frames with glues such as Selleys’ “Liquid Nails”.

For heavier framed works with glass, which I didn’t trust to Velcro, I hammered in picture frame hooks when no one was around to ask, “Should you be hammering nails into our brand new wall?”

Items that don’t have a flat surface, such as small stuffed toys (below), can be pinned up high and out of reach of little fingers, with bead-ended hatpins.

Captain Underpants
Captain Underpants – his secret of flight: a hatpin.

Building a BER school library

Check it out - again

Happy 2011! Have I told you how easy Photo Peach can be?

Yes, I have! It just took me all of ten minutes to upload these photos of our new BER school library being built, select music, edit captions and play it!

Building a school library (2010)

All ready to share this free Web 2.0 resource with the students and staff tomorrow! Enjoy!

I flocked my clock

Flocked clock

The black “Penrith” clock, on the “newsroom clocks” wall, hasn’t been looking its best against an indigo background. You may recall, I superglued a green satin rim to the perimeter last week, but it simply wasn’t enough to lift the clock from the rich denseness that is the indigo material on the walls. I resisted the urge to add tinsel, petals or a sunburst, because I really liked the simplicity of a “newsroom”. So… now the black clock is also colour-matched to the doors. PVA glue and “Martian green” fake turf (made for decorating the scenery of a model railway), created an effect which is more luxurious and professional than if I’d attempted to paint straight onto the plastic rim.

Time 4 Le@rning - green clock