HMS Library Quarterly Report

August-October 2013

Life in the Library...

It's hard to believe the first quarter is already over! The library has been a busy place so far this year. Besides the LS classes, which bring groups to the library every afternoon, classes in every grade have scheduled more library times than last year. There's always something happening in the library!

Students read...

The chart below illustrates book circulations this quarter as they compared to first quarter last year. As was the pattern most of last year, circulations this year were higher than last year at the same time. The biggest increase in circulation was in the nonfiction section. Part of that was because Mr. Rewerts used the books pertaining to the Civil War for his work in his classroom this year, but the increase can not be just attributed to that. Across all grade levels, more students are checking out nonfiction books. That might explain the fact that fiction circulation actually decreased slightly this quarter from last year at this time.

I know looking at circulation statistics can be somewhat deceiving, since there are some students at HMS who frequently check out and return books they don't actually read, but it does give a sense of how the books in the library are being used.

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As I mentioned above, Language Arts classes from every grade level have scheduled times to come to the library. The 5th grade teachers bring their Language Arts classes to the library every Thursday afternoon. Mrs. Pennington brings her 6th grade Language Arts classes every other Tuesday morning. Ms. Reed and Mrs. Krehbiel bring the 7th and 8th grade classes every Thursday morning. I have had the opportunity to booktalk books at each grade level as well as share "recommended reading" lists with each grade.

This year, as was the case last year, 5th and 6th graders are required to read books and pass a certain number of Reading Counts (RC) tests each quarter. This year, the teachers have made the requirements for what books students can read a little more flexible. It would be interesting to see how the increased flexibility has had an effect on circulation statistics.

To continue working towards matching the right book with the right reader, 22 books were purchased this quarter. Specifically, 16 nonfiction books were purchased with funds from the Hesston Community Foundation to help update that collection. Some of the titles purchased are pictured below.

Teachers Collaborate...

So far this year, most of my work with teachers has been geared towards helping students find good books to read. At the beginning of the year, I did a quick refresher for 5th grade students on how to use the Destiny circulation system.

I am hopeful that with the time students have in the library already, as teachers begin more research I can help teachers and students find appropriate resources and evaluate what they find. I am always on the lookout for ways I can help teach information, media, and technology literacy skills to students.

Students participate...

One way I try to make the library relevant in students' lives is by offering ways for them to participate and interact with things in the library. A simple way I've done that this quarter is by having a question for them to answer on a whiteboard. The two questions I asked first quarter, and the answers to the questions, are pictured below. I will continue to look for ways to make the library a participatory environment for students and staff.

Special Events...

The major event in the library this quarter was the Scholastic Book Fair we held the first full week of school in order to coincide with the Middle School Open House for parents. Even with only being open after school that week and the evening of the open house, our sales increased this year over last. Total sales were about $200 more than last year. We earn 40% of total sales, or about $695 this year. These funds will be used to purchase more books for the library in order to continue updating the collection. We may also use some funds to purchase supplies for the library and incentives for students.

Having the book fair at the beginning of the year instead of during parent teacher conferences was not stress free by any means, but with the increase in sales, we think it makes sense to try it again next year. We are also exploring the idea of having another book fair in the spring if there is a time there will be families in the building.

The physical and online library...

One of the biggest changes in the library this fall is how different the space looks. Along with our fabulous custodians, Anne Dare, library aide, and I spent many hours over the summer moving things around. The low bookcases are in different places which required us to pack and unpack boxes of books. I believe the new arrangement makes it a little easier for two classes to use the library at one time.

In addition, through a generous donation by the PTO, new furniture was purchased for the seating area in the front space of the library. The new couch and chairs were a welcome change and are regularly used by students.

With the new website we are using in the district now, I have also spent some time updating the library website to make it as user friendly as possible. I am always looking for ways to make the online library a place students know they can go to find what they need. I will continue updating it throughout the year.

A challenge for myself this year is to shift my thinking (and help others shift their thinking as well) from assuming that the library is just a physical place that offers only print resources. As our technology access and comfort level increases, I need to remember that the online library and resources can be accessed anywhere and at any time. I would like to think about ways I can continue to increase the library's online presence, how to share the resources that are available with staff and students, and how to measure how those resources are being used.

What's next?

One of my biggest ongoing tasks is working on weeding the collection to remove outdated books from the collection. Having a large collection with unappealing, or worse, inaccurate, books creates the false impression that the collection is meeting the needs of staff and students. A challenge this year is that with the increase in class visits along with the LS classes in the library, my time for administrative work has significantly decreased. I am needing to learn how to increase my ability to multi-task!

In addition, I continue to think about ways to involve students in what happens in the library. I would still like to offer a book club of some sort in the library. I'm not sure logistically how that will happen, but I think it could meet the needs of some of our readers at HMS.

Finally, I am always thinking about how I can be involved in the process of teaching information, media, and technology skills to students. The librarians of the past taught students how to find information. We don't have to teach that today; information is literally at our fingertips. Students today need instruction in how to evaluate the information they find and how to use the information effectively. These are ways the library and its resources can continue to be an integral part of the HMS community.

Rachel Yoder

HMS Library Media Specialist