Plotting, planning, packing, roving

Lots of NSW DET school libraries seem to be preparing to pack up everything for longterm (temporary) storage while their new BER libraries are built on the site of portable buildings.

That will be happening here, too, but we haven’t been given evacuation orders yet.

A teacher librarian of my acquaintance asked about the security and weather-tightness of the supplied storage container, and was worried about the condition of the books when they emerge. nd what about the potential for vandalism of the container

I say, “Why worry?”

Many, many people store their possessions in large shipping containers for years on end – and most of our imported books arrive in Australia in the same type of shipping containers, surviving three months of perilous seas and weather. If some books get damaged, well… they get damaged. I suggested they think of this whole experience as an enforced cull. If necessary, make the insurance claims and then buy new resources to replace the damaged ones. Or simply have a smaller collection.

I did a massive cull of huge, dusty old hardcover tomes (and el cheapo, yellowing, brittle, 1970s paperbacks) at a school when we converted it to OASIS from a card catalogue in the 1990s. We cleared the shelves of hundreds of books, much to my principal’s horror – and yet our borrowing rates went way up!

(In any case, if vandals want to destroy library books, they’d have a much better time waiting till the new library is built. Vandalising books in a storage container is hardly much fun. Too much like shooting ducks in a barrel.)

Think positive: visualise our wonderful new school libraries – and spend the intervening months as a roving TL, getting to know the teachers on their own turf (ie. in their own classrooms!) – and plotting and planning how to maximise the learning possibilities of the new library when it arrives.

As for me, I’m really looking forward to plotting, planning, packing and roving – sometime in 2010!

A basketful of solutions

In the madness that is Term Four stocktake, I had several brainwaves and lucky coincidences that enabled me to complete several new shoestring elements to my school library makeover.

Those tiny books that some young borrowers covet like long-lost treasures! They slip inside other books, fall under shelving, cause whole rows of neatly shelved books to go wonky. How to store them efficiently?

In one of my previous schools, we had a spinner rack that accommodated all small junior fiction books. I hated that spinner, but those books were always hot picks! At least the spinner made them easy to identify, easier to shelve, and put them all on front-on display, in a place where the students were motivated to go.

At the course last term, Kevin Hennah challenged us to investigate ways to make more of our library collections face “front cover out”, rather than “spine out”. One day, I was wandering through a local Asian “two dollar” shop and found a vibrant pink plastic set of tiered baskets. At $16, it was certainly more than other items in the store, but the pink was the same colour the previous teacher-librarian had assigned to shelf signage in the “Easy Fiction” section. Now, I’d been contemplating changing “Easy” to “Junior”, although I wasn’t sure how to tell my clerical assistant that we’d eventually be changing a lot of call number stickers, but the students are very familiar with the pink designation for this section.

hot pink basket

It was a tight fit between two shelving units, but no one’s likely to move the tiers, and what a great way to maximise some dead space, put all the tiny books in one convenient location – front on – and add a splash of day-glo colour!

Coincidentally, another colour the shop had in stock was green, the colour of our “Fiction” section. The next day, I raced back to get the last green set left in stock:

hot green basket

This time, the shelving units I’d planned to wedge the baskets between were too close together and unable to me moved apart. So, I dragged a different set out from a wall, wedged the backets beside it, and slide the shelves snugly against the baskets. Charged with success, I went back for an orange set to put in the “Non Fiction” section:

reno dragon and hot orange basket

To the left is a papier-mache Chinese dragon from my classroom teacher days, and he’s become a bit of a mascot in the library in recent years. Kevin Henneah would probably say that his time as come; I had to bring him down from his usual high corner, to make room for the wall-preparation renovations anticipating the arrival of our new interactive whiteboard (IWB). We had a stack of unused shelving packed tightly against a wall and, until the dragon gets a better location, he seems quite at home next to the baskets of small books of myths and legends in “Non Fiction”.

Finally, note the “Hot” signs above each basket, which came from a different Asian “two dollar” shop, this time in the Sydney CBD. The packet of ten cardboard showcards was just $4. Also available was a set with “It’s New!” Thanks Hot Dollar – both of your stores! My shoestring is stretched but still intact!