Book Week approaches

Aldi world map

Teacher-librarians had been mentioning that Aldi supermarkets were stocking a large, exclusive, felt map of the world, which might prove useful to decorate the library for Book Week (this year’s theme being, “One world, many stories”). I checked out my local Aldi today and, sure enough, there it was. It comes with 100 small felt pieces to attach to the map: iconic buildings, animals, birds, people, products, rivers – and labels for the oceans and continents. Looks great!

Family forest display

Congratulations to Class 1H for creating this beautiful display for the library on the picture book, “Family forest”! This and other class displays are in my Flickr slideshow.

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.

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

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.

Entering the literary garden of delights!

Frog Prince & golden ball
Student comment: “I saw the Frog Prince and his golden ball in a bowl, but I think that is the same bowl Chook used last year when he was being an astronaut!”

Today, the students at my school had their first experiences in our newly built school library. I’ve spent three weeks unpacking the book stock (from long-term storage) and decorating with new and nostalgic elements. The students were full of questions, but I used Circle Time to maximise and equalise all the the talking and listening. It was a great day. The looks on their faces, as they explored (hands free) all the new nooks and crannies made all the planning and hard work worth while.

Archeological dig
Our historic school milk bottles are now enshrined in a shadow box.

The quote from a framing store, to have the bottles placed into a customised shadow box was $200 but I did it for about $40, thanks to parts bought from Spotlight. The inside text reads: Penrith Public School’s library stands on the site of a portable library building, and before that a previous portable building. In 2010, workmen excavating the foundations found these “school milk” bottles buried deep in the rubble. One is embossed “1/3 PINT PASTEURISED MILK”. See the original blog entry of our archeological find HERE.

48 more photos of display elements ready for today’s opening are HERE.

Wally and the lion

I found Wally, er, Waldo
“I found Wally, er, Waldo!”

After three weeks of unpacking, shelving, unpacking, labelling, unpacking and even more unpacking, our new BER school library is almost ready for young, enthusiastic browsers. The students have been peering anxiously through the glass doors (removing nose marks has been a pleasant daily chore) and soon they will get a chance to see the treasures that await them. For one, I found my old “Where’s Wally” figure, a souvenir of a trip to the USA over Christmas 1991. This Wally, er… Waldo (in the US) most often used to hang in a model hot air balloon in my previous school library, where I had originally made the stupid mistake of promising to “hide” him each week – but the students almost ransacked the shelves looking for him. In this new library, Wally will guard the sure-to-be-popular display of “Where’s Wally” puzzle books.


Library lion
… a library lion guards our new Returns box.

I fell in love with a beautiful reclining lion statue in a local store just last January. It was $50 and I wandered off wishing I could afford it for the library. But it seemed a very extravagant expenditure – and everything was about to go into storage while our BER library was being built. A few months later, I remembered that our collection included the beautiful picture book, “Library lion” by Michelle Knudsen & Kevin Hawkes, and suddenly a lion guarding the new library was an essential. I went back to the shop and the lion statue was still there! But he was now $70. Oh well…

A few weeks ago, I was upstairs in the seedy bargain section of a local bargain store, shopping for inexpensive picture frames – and located, instead, a sitting lion in a forgotten, dusty corner – in almost the same pose as the lion on the cover of the picture book. He was only $14, and the shop assistant said she didn’t even remember him being part of their stock. Thus, we now have our own library lion, and a smugly satisfied, bargain-hunting teacher-librarian.

Hanging around!

It’s been a while since I’ve reported on my renovation project!


These metal skirt hangers might be the best $2.49 (per set of three) I’ve spent during the library’s “shoestring renovation”. Previously, posters and displays of class work would be hung in the library from a motley assortment of unmatched clothes pegs and rusting paperclips. I had intended to purchase special hangers before Book Week this year, but I suddenly realised that, with the eventual arrival of our brand new Building the Education Revolution (BER) school library, that I’d be asking our General Assistant to affix many special hooks to the library ceiling twice in a rather short amount of time.

Pondering how to efficiently hang up to eighteen large Book Week displays, I happened upon the sets of skirt hangers and had a brainwave. There were already cords stretched across the top of most of the library’s window blinds. The wall that had been stripped of pinboards and painted green, for the IWB, was no longer available as a display space. Maybe the skirt hangers would look neater, and hang more securely and lower, than attempting to use plastic and wooden clothes pegs?

I’m quite pleased with the result!

hangers on poster

Nobody owns the moon by 4/5M

Book Week 2009

At my school, it’s been a long tradition that every class prepares a Book Week display for the library. The displays, either 2D or 3D, stay up until just before the next Book Week, and help the library to be a colourful and fun environment. Here are our displays to celebrate Book Week 2009. Theme: “Book Safari”. Click photos to see bigger versions.

Collecting colour by SCLB
Collecting colour by SCLB

Sign for Book Safari culture pod by SCHMBook Safari culture pod by SCHM
“Book Safari” culture pod by SCHM – “It’s culture – in a pith helmet!”

Every picture tells a story by 6P
Every picture tells a story by 6P

Nobody owns the moon by 4/5M
Nobody owns the moon by 4/5M

Puffling by KFM
Puffling by KFM

Pull to see 1C - #1
Pull to see 1C - #2
Pull to see 1C

Book safari by 4W
“Book Safari” poster by 4W

Tuart dwellers by 1S
Tuart dwellers by 1S

How weird is that by 2CH
How weird is that… by 2CH

The wizard of Rondo by 5/6D
The wizard of Rondo by 5/6D

Sunday Chutney by KB
Sunday Chutney by KB

The big book of happy sadness by 3G
The big book of happy sadness by 3G

Tom Tom by 2KS
More Tom Tom by 2KS
Tom Tom by 2KS

Book safari tree by 3M
“Book Safari” tree by 3M

How to heal a broken wing by KI
How to heal a broken wing by KI

Book safari decorated box by 5BOther side of decorated box by 5B
“Book Safari” decorated box by 5B

Leaf by SCHC
“Leaf” by SCHC

Safari cameras by 6W
Shoot animals with a camera, not a gun! by 6W

Safari print balloons

Front-on displays – rules of attraction!

I’ve put a lot of thought into Kevin Hennah’s urging that librarians and teacher-librarians take note of how shops promote the books (and other goods) they wish to sell quickly: they have the beautiful covers turned out to face the customers. Most libraries have the spines out: to save room, to save reshelving time, and to make it easy to locate books by their call numbers. And shops maximise the use of the ends of their rows of shelves.

Since many students come to the library to browse, maybe strict Dewey order and “spines out” is not the most user-friendly strategy?

Slant boards seemed to be a great way to maximise the use of shelf ends, for covers-out displays, in the libraries shown in Kevin’s slideshow presentation. But I imagine these slant boards are very expensive, and our school library doesn’t have all that many exposed shelf ends anyway.

I’ve had a picture in my mind of something sturdy enough to withstand students (I’ve seen plenty of fragile, perspex, document holders), and yet it can’t require more painting for my wearing-out wrists. Yesterday, I found a fascinating selection of Japanese homewares:

* plastic (and very strongly magnetic) Magnet Pockets (in the colours of dayglo lime, dayglo orange and brown)

* two sizes of Sukitto white plastic baskets, which can be suspended by plastic hooks.

Each of these pieces: only $3 from Hot Dollar.

Boxes and baskets

The magnetic boxes fitted perfectly on the Premier’s Reading Challenge shelf ends, and the boxes easily take the mass of a paperback book:

magnetic display boxes

After taking this picture, I found one more lime box left in the shop and was able to improve my colour coordination a bit. (Actually, this one was wrongly price-ticketed and I was charged only $2.50.) The orange boxes are now being used in another section of the library, coicidentally this was the colour I’d be using in “Non Fiction”, remember? I’m contemplating spray-painting the brown boxes PRC purple, but the brown does match the shelving frames.

PRC magnetic boxes 2

This long white basket hangs from the otherwise-exposed (and completely wasted) back of a huge wire book rack. The basket can supposedly hold ten kilograms of books:

rack basket

These smaller white baskets fill an otherwise-dead corner of “Junior Fiction”, right near the front door!

book baskets

So, until there’s money to fritter away on purpose-built wooden slant boards, these nifty Japanese baskets will at least get us thinking more like a shop, and hopefully more browser-conscious than reshelver-conscious.

The other simple “front-on” success was choosing to stock this spinner rack with vibrant “animal books” – I find it’s almost impossible to keep it restocked! The students gravitate towards the rack, and it’s often picked clean! I have several students who love to come in at lunchtime and restock it.

Spinner rack of animal books

Likewise, this “Hot” spinner rack of “Aussie bites”, “Aussie nibbles” and “Aussie chomps”:

"Hot" rack of "Aussie bites" books