Friday Focus

Friday, October 9, 2020, vol. 8, no. 14

Friday Focus is a quick digest of news and notes

for members of The Indianapolis Public Library Shared System.

All Indianapolis Public Library locations will be closed on Monday, October 12th, for our annual day of staff development.

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Help Is on the Way!

You may recognize this face if you've been with us more than nine moths. Kimberly Andersen served as the project manager for our new ILS. She just agreed to serve as the Project Manger for the Shared System. As most of you know, Kimberly knows almost everything there is to know about Polaris and Leap. She is who I have turned to when you send me the knottiest problems and she untangles them patiently each time, so I'm grateful to have her be the second member of what really can now be a Shared System team. Many of you have heard from her already as she's preparing overdue and lost reports for you as you begin to track down items AWOL since last spring.

She's an active volunteer in her daughter's school library. For the last three years, she worked on the launch of both Bibliocommons and Polaris. For ten years before that, she served as the manager of the West Indianapolis branch. She has experience as an automation librarian, a children's librarian, and, yes, a school librarian. She started as a page in the Muncie Public Library back in 1992. I asked her to introduce herself to you, and I think you'll appreciate what a good fit she is!

I was ALWAYS a student library helper, in elementary, middle and high school! My sixth grade elementary teacher asked me if I didn’t like her because I was ALWAYS asking to go to the library!! I practically lived in the library that year!

I admire everything school librarians do for their schools and know how hard and thankless the job can be at times! The kids see you though; they know how awesome you are! You may have someone in your class just like me, planning to work in a library just like you someday! All of my school librarians were awesome, even my dear middle school librarian who used to make us turn the pages of every new book to make sure all the pages were there (she once found a book that had pages missing!!) Those encyclopedias were brutal and it was so hard not to get distracted wanting to read something on the page!!

Kimberly will be available to answer Polaris questions. She knows how to create and make the most of record sets. She can retrieve reports if you need them, too. She was also instrumental in the Bibliocommons launch so she can help you with creating your Biblicommons account and book lists. She'll be helping to bring new members into the Shared System, too. She's just dipping into Axis 360, so you can keep sending me those questions and I'll include her in the responses. You can contact Kimberly directly at

Welcome, Kimberly!

Learning Loss and Library Time

Some researchers believe that COVID-19's impact on learning will resonate for years. A recent article in Chalkbeat and a recent webinar called Internet Essentials Impact on Education Summit highlight projected learning loss for students not in high quality (or in person) virtual learning programs. Dig deeper into the Chalkbeat article for research reports on just how much loss can be expected. In the webinar, Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, new director of the Brookings Center for Technology Innovation, quoted a recent McKinsey study which "found that the educational achievement gap has widened for Black students by 15 to 20 percent since the onset of school closures. Black K-12 students who remain disconnected from learning will experience 10.3 months of cognitive losses and for low-income students that number will be more than one year."(1)

While there is some discussion about how learning loss could be counted using standard deviation measures, you could also think about it in human terms. The person closest to students in the webinar panel, Eric Collazo, School Principal, Washington Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C., described the barriers his students (and likely yours as well) have faced since March. Although the high school had devices to send home with the students, some of their parents needed to use those devices to work from home themselves in order to stay employed. If the parents were able to work outside the home, then the high school students were charged with not just babysitting but helping their younger siblings learn online - while also keeping up with their own online learning. What about the high school students who had a family member get sick and need to isolate, or be exposed and have to quarantine? Add on shopping, food prep and clean up.

These last six months have been difficult for all of us, but they have weighed heavily on kids. So do you park them in front of a screen that offers self-paced learning, or an online tutor, or extra hours of after school class time to help them catch up? Maybe. Or maybe you offer them respite in your library, in a book you recommend, maybe one about a teen angry with life who comes out whole at the end, or one about losing parents or grandparents and making it through the loss. Or maybe it's a graphic novel or a dystopian romance so they don't have to be quite so present in the ugly day to day. As much as you can, as often as you can, any way that you can, listen to your students and hook them up with just the right books. You really might be the one best person to do that at your school. You might even be the only person at your school to do that.


Jason Reynolds Speaks to Indy

Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 6:30pm

This is an online event.

This event will be live-streamed on IndyPL's YouTube and Facebook pages, and does not require any registration. If you would like to receive an email reminder before the event, click HERE. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

You are invited to an evening online with Jason Reynolds where he will discuss writing, life, race, family, and everything in between. Jason is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels and poems for young people. He is a two-time National Book Award finalist; the recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and multiple Coretta Scott King Honors; and the winner of a Kirkus Prize, two Walter Dean Myers Awards, and an NAACP Image Award, among many other honors. In addition, Reynolds was named the Library of Congress' National Ambassador for Young People's Literature in January, 2020.

Preview his books, connect with him on social media, watch him at work for the Library of Congress as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and get to know the moderator of the event on the webpage created just for this event.

This would be a great extra credit assignment for all ages! If there's a writing assignment connected to it, I can offer a wonderful place to publish winning essays. I welcome your thoughts as well!

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Sign Up for a Personal Fall Meeting

Our annual fall meeting is in a different format - one-on-one on Zoom!

I've added more slots to the Sign Up Genius series of appointments. There are 26 open appointment slots over the lunch hour and after 3 p.m. Already 26 slots have been reserved. Please hop on today if you're not one of them.

I talked with Lee Ann Kee (school library manager) and Shael Weidenbach (Family & Community Program Coordinator) at Francis Parker # 56. They have worked closely together to promote reading and library use. IPS going virtual for the first quarter moved their collaboration online. Shael's had some experience creating videos and has done one a week to encourage students and families to get into books. They are planning one for next week about how to take care of library books when you take them home, since their students just started back this week.

While I couldn't see Julie Pack (LT doesn't have the cameras turned on for all staff computers), it was good to hear her voice. She has classes coming in to the library and has been keeping up with the quarantining of books. She has 4 to 5 classes a day, 7 on Friday. She has had to limit students to one book each - so hard for the voracious readers, and the ones who need more practice. She was grateful that Meghan Alexis sent out a video she can use to introduce kids to Axis 360 so she will start that next week.

Brebeuf now has an occupancy limit of 52 so it's definitely not the bustling place it used to be. That doesn't mean Suzanne Russell and Charity Karcz are working less - they're just working differently! Charity has heard her students ask for a more comprehensive science resource and so has subscribed to Science Direct especially for students doing AP research. It's published by Elsevier. She and I would be interested to know if other high schools might find this helpful.

At Decatur Central High School, Deana Beecher (school library manager) and Bil Carter (library assistant) have been busy setting up courses and classes in Axis 360. They've got some multidisciplinary classes that are interested in ebook class sets. Deana says there's a BioLit course and an American Studies course. (There are probably more, that's all that's in my notes!) One pure science class is reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in Axis 360.

I got caught up with three staff members at the Heritage Christian School libraries (they have one for elementary and one for high school). They've rearranged the furniture to allow for social distancing. Jennifer Harrison had a long list of questions for me, so my notes are a to-do list!

Covenant Christian High School has completely rearranged their library for social distancing and they love the new look. Both Laura Burks, school library manager, and Krista Shields, media center specialist, like the openness, and having the bookshelves lining the walls instead of in rows. They don't have classes coming to the library and Laura's not able to go into classrooms, so they've created a video for students on how to use the library.

My last call of the week was with Marcia Goldstein, library manager of the Jewish Community Library. While the library, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis spaces are closed, everyone is working from home, including Marcia. She's become active with the Jewish Library Association and has been perusing their recommended lists to see what needs to be added to her library's shelves. She's involved in several book clubs with Indianapolis synagogues, and promotes a number of workshops and movie/discussion series. These aren't all part of her job per se, but her active participation reminds others that the Jewish Community Library is there! She says she's received quite a few book donations that she is eager to add to the collection as soon as their building opens again.

I look forward to more of these conversations! If you can't find a time on the schedule, let me know!

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Picklist Convenience to Go

From Sarah Marott (Christel House South) via text: OMG!!!! This is so 😎. I can fill my pick list right from the laptop and put them on a cart. Now, if only the receipt printer was hooked up....Or bluetooth... :-)

If you look closely, you'll see she has her scanner on the cart, too. You do not have to sit at your desk and check out books! If you need to stand in the middle of the room to see what's going on, take your laptop and cart with you.

Sad News from Muncie Public Schools

If you haven't done so recently, please go thank your principal and district administration for recognizing the value you offer your schools. Muncie Public Schools closed all their school libraries for the year this year. Although they were part of the Shared System there, they aren't actively engaged with it this year. Sadly, their two remaining media specialists were reassigned. One is teaching PE; the other is teaching Health. Do students need PE and Health? Yes. Do they need school libraries? YES. Here's hoping they get it worked out for next year.

Seriously, go say thank you to someone at your school!

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5 x 5/5 for 5

Cathedral High School Students and Staff are signing up for their library's 5 x 5/5 Reading Challenge. Jenny Herron, school library manager, and Alannah Cataldo, library assistant, talked about running the program online but decided they'd miss talking with the the students about what they're reading too much. Here's their promotional info:

Let's get reading!

Beginning Monday, October 5th: read a book --that you haven't read before & at your reading level -- tell a librarian about it. We'll keep track until May 5, 2021. Whoever reaches 5 titles by then (or more, of course!) gets LUNCH PARTY with Chick-Fil-A, or some other wonderful restaurant food, prizes, fellowship, and $5. #notbribingyoutoread

That's it! The first time you contact a librarian to talk about your book, we'll start your contract.

Can't wait to see you! Passing Periods! Before School! After School! in the Parking Lot! We'll find you!.

Jenny sent the sixty or so who've already registered an email this week:

Last year's books we read for 5 by 5/5 for 5 ---

Nice list! -- AND direct links to request them from IndyPL:)

You're welcome!!!

Q & A: (from branch to school) Checking in Items that Aren't Yours

When I asked Shannon how she found such an old Friday Focus, she said "I saved this because this happens at our branch periodically. Once you and Kimberly figured out was wrong, I had a feeling I would need to refer to this solution again."

Problem: My name is Shannon Bahler, and I am a librarian at the Southport branch of IndyPL. There is a book appearing on our pick list that is actually at your school. Could you please correct the record, so that it does not appear on the Southport pick list?

Here's what to do: To get this off our pick list, Sarah Batt outlined the solution in the Friday Focus newsletter from 02/20/2020. In case you didn’t save it, here’s what was in the newsletter:

The Problem: When you check in IndyPL materials, the status is no longer "Checked In" at your location; the status will always be inaccurate.

The Reason: Because IndyPL materials do not "float" to Shared System locations anymore. When you check the item in, Polaris asks whether to place in transit to the IndyPL branch it last came from. You have the option to say Yes or No. If you say yes, the item status changes to Transit. If you say No, the item status changes to IN, but the item shows it as checked in at the IndyPL branch it last came from.

The Solution: Shared System members MUST SAY YES at check in when asked whether to transit an item to its assigned branch.

Do you want to know why?

  • If you say No, then the item will appear to be at the assigned branch and could show up on the assigned branch location's pick list. Staff will go look for the item, not just once but several times, and then they will make the item Local Missing. But to make the item Local Missing, they have to go to the Check in screen and paste the barcode in as if it were really in their hands and they were checking it in. Which makes the item history look really wonky, wastes branch staff time, and confuses everyone.
  • If you say Yes, then the item will show that it was last checked in at your location and transited. You are more than welcome to place it on your Temptation shelf (as Melody Groothuis calls it at Shortridge) or your shopping shelf, or limited time only shelf, whatever you call it. IndyPL would much rather have your patrons be able to see those books and possibly check them out than have them sit in a blue tote for a week. Every two weeks, just empty your Temptation shelves and send those items back to us. You don't need to check them in again as their status already shows as Transit. When they hit the sorter, the sorter will know where to send them.

In short, JUST SAY YES!

Q & A: Shared System's Not a "Call Number"

Q: In creating our list for barcode labeling through CMSA, I find books with the call number "SHARED SYSTEM." Do those still come to be barcoded? And why are they labeled that way?

A: There are two kinds of records for materials in the catalog. The bibliographic record (aka bib record) which has information about the title. The item record has information about the item, the tangible book. The item records are "attached" to the bib record. At IndyPL, the bib record and item record have the same call numbers because our call numbers apply to the whole IndyPL system. Shared System members sometimes use different call numbers so their item record call numbers don't always match the bib record call numbers. All this applies when both IndyPL and a Share System member own items on the same bib record – there will be a call number on the bib record, and it will match IndyPL owned item records AND it may or may not match the Shared System owned item record. If, however, a Shared System member owns an item IndyPL doesn't own, then the bib record has the call number “Shared System” and the item record has the Shared System location’s call number.

Q & A: Deleting Patrons

Q: Can you tell me how to delete a patron? I made a duplicate card. OR When I try to merge a library account because of a duplication, the system says I am restricted from doing that.

A: IndyPL decided there were too many opportunities for error if they gave that permission to everyone. So I think only a staff members have permission. Can you send me the two barcodes? Label one KEEP and the other one DELETE. Always keep the oldest record! Merging should move over any items out or pending holds, although if there is a lot of debt, sometimes those merges get special treatment! What do you do if they've lost their card? Give them a new one? Yes, I know you just did give them a new one, but that was a duplicate number. If they've walked away with their new card, write down the number you gave them on that card. Then put a new card number in the duplicate record and throw the card away. THEN put the number you wrote down in the record we're going to merge and keep. Problem solved!

Parting Note

Go to Hoopla and check out some music you find inspiring. Let it soar as you watch this video of Covenant Christian High School's orchestra and choir performing an outdoor concert. It's a beautiful day and the sunlight is just right. I wouldn't blame them if they moved all their fall concerts outside!

Footnote: although they have an alum who captures sports video by drone, this was recorded on foot by media specialist and theatre program director, Krista Shields.