Reference: Under Construction

Raychel Treviño

To Evaluate or Not to Evaluate?

This is my first year as an elementary school librarian, and when I walked through the doors of my new domain it was far from magical. On each and every shelf there were books from every section of the library: fiction, easy, non-fiction, reference, SPANISH! With the help of some great friends, I managed to get the Easy and Fiction section under control. The Non-Fiction was put into groups by 100s, but it's not perfect yet. Finally, my poor Reference section was dumped in a couple of areas with hardly a second thought. My mentor isn't a fan of reference books because she finds encyclopedias unsightly and other resources obsolete now that we have the internet, and frankly, our district's resources are old, outdated and rarely ever used. With a budget of about $3000 this year, there wasn't a dollar to spare towards reference books.

So, I debated whether I should use my library for my assignment, or choose another nicely organized library with updated materials. I decided to use my own, because I know it needs work and this assignment would give me the opportunity to analyze this section, and come up with a design and organization plan.

Library Budget ~ 2014-2015 School Year


Current Reference Collection Holding

We currently have 355 volumes of reference materials. In addition, to Gale online and Brittanica online resources.

Spanish Resources

Subject References

Maps and More

Asking the Experts

I asked my mentors, and I even spoke to the library director about this assignment, and I was somewhat surprised at the consistency of their answers. They all felt that the we were headed into pure internet resources when it came to reference, so why waste money on something that kids could just "Google"?

I disagree, and I had to stop and reflect: is it just the sentimentality and affection I have for books? Is it my age (while I'm the youngest in the group, I didn't grow up during the age of the internet)? No, that wasn't it.

Information in book form serves many purposes besides finding information on a topic, especially for elementary school children. It helps them learn alphabetical order and estimation (where should I crack open the book if I am looking for information on snakes in the "S" volume of the encyclopedia?). Children are exposed to all kinds of text features, and they can study that information wherever they are - regardless if there's free Wi-Fi.

Now that I've gotten a really good look at the Reference section. I know I've got a lot of work to do, and I'm going to have to make miracles happen, especially with my budget. But first I'll start my "Design on a Dime" version of my Reference library. Organizing and making it aesthetically pleasing to my patrons. Having clear labels, and putting them in the correct order. I'll just take it one step at a time, making sure I make that first step.