Be brave! Go front-out!

A colleague over on the OZTL_Net listserv asked about making her high school library look more like a bookshop, with more of the book covers facing outwards to entice readers. She specifically mentioned those old brown library shelves, with their stodgy, flat canopies, and her unsuccessful efforts to use them as display areas. Does putting an angled display shelf in its place mean overcrowding below?

Sure, I said, if that’s all you can manage to do, it’s better than nothing. But I also suggested combining her new arrangement with a savage cull of old books. Crowded spine-out shelves are very uninviting, and it’s the front-out books that will be moving, while the spine-out books will no doubt get ignored by most browsers. There’ll be less books, but the borrowing figures will surely rise!

Kevin Hennah, at the wonderful PD day I attended in 2007, heartily recommended ridding all libraries of their antiquated, flat-top canopy shelves. Wherever possible, he suggested shelving that encouraged front-on displays. There are some library furniture catalogues around that have beautiful box-shaped tubs, rather like the old-style LP record bins, for picture books and large format, fully-illustrated non fiction.

In libraries with very limited space, or limited budgets, he recommended slant boards (even homemade), that could cover plain, unused shelving bay ends and turn them into attractive display spaces for cover-out books. In my primary school library, I had to be even more frugal. I knew we couldn’t justify spending money on slantboards – but I found a range of Japanese plastic wares in a chain of stores (called Hot Dollar), such as hooked baskets and funky, colourful, little magnetic boxes. I also made much better use of two existing spinner racks – it’s impossible to keep them filled! Front-on displays make books *move*!

Even assemble-it-yourself wheeled plastic trolleys, also from a “two dollar bargains” store, filled little corners of the library with useful front-on display space. I swapped the slanted display shelving of several old portable magazine racks to convert a set of standard wall shelves into display shelves. Click here for more amazing results!

Can you tell I’m just itching for my new library to be built?

A “hit” of feedback

Over at the professional teacher-librarian listservs, OZTL_Net and nswtl, it is customary to post a “hit” of useful feedback to the list when people have elected to send private emails in response to a post. The information is anonymous, in that it’s from private emails, and a hit can save the cluttering up of the actual listserv traffic with lots of “me too” and “well done” posts. A hit also collects useful snippets of information in the one place.

A few days ago, I posted the URL of this blog to both OZTL_Net and nswtl and the emails started coming in immediately. Many thanks for the great feedback, everyone. Some readers responded in the Comments section of the blog itself, but I wanted to share some of the other messages that have come through to me by email.

What is really exciting (and important) is that I’ve already inspired others to take immediate action to plan for using Web 2.0 tools with their classes this year. Blogs! Blog comments! Wikis! Memes! Book raps

As I said last year – on the second occasion I heard about the place of wikis and blogs in education – if I don’t attempt it now, I might never feel “ready”. There’s something to be said about learning along with the students.

* “Good on you Ian. I’ll be reading. I’ve just started writing one too… Good luck on the blogging journey!”

* “I checked out your blog cos I had a spare mo and liked your 10 questions so much I thought I’d have to ask if I can use them blatantly for the book discussion group that I have to set up as an extracurricular activity. I’ll share the blog too but thought I might set up something similar or get the students to do it on our school intranet.”

* “Very impressive, Ian”

* “I checked out your Wiki with the kindy kids. Loved it! Love to try it this year… The stories are great by the way. I’ve set up a Wiki with pbwiki and so am one quarter of the way there.”

* “FABULOUS!!! I can only aspire to bloggin’ at present but I take heart from your bold step”.

“Looks great – very inspiring.”

Thanks everyone! See you here in the blogosphere sometime.