Battle of the Books

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The beginning of 2015 has sparked the thirst for a good battle with my library’s youth — requests for items on the Battle hermionish.BoBof the Books list have been ever popular!

In Michigan, with school media specialists being laid off and media center budgets being decimated, the importance of communication between the school district and the public library is key to providing quality services to youth, teachers in the classroom, and parents. This being my first BoB year (as a practicing librarian), I wanted to make sure that my library had an up-to-date collection.

I’m all for being proactive and doing my own research — not having things handed to me; however, I kept hearing that Deckerville doesn’t use the national Battle of the Books list. Thanks to a wonderful teacher at Brown City Community Schools, who helps coordinate the county project, I was able to obtain the curated book lists for all of Sanilac County.

This week, I’ve spent a chunk of time in expanding and improving our special BoB collection. Previously, all of the spines read, “BATTLE BOOK.” With the books in the collection targeting 4th to 6th graders, there’s a bit of a reading range — some books are much more in depth, and thicker, than other items on the shelves. It was especially easy for the skinny, quick reads to get lost in the jungle. Looking for a specific book, when all of the spines were identical was problematic considering the various size disparities involved. During the process of inventorying that part of the collection, several items were marked as ‘lost,’ when in fact, the books were right there on the shelf.

The BoB collection, as it stood, was in direct “violation” of S. R. Ranganathan’s 4th law of library science: (4) save the time of the reader. Patrons should be able to find the materials in which they seek — quickly and efficiently.

Litmus test: if staff can’t easily find materials, then how can they expect their patrons? Especially the younger patrons. JCB to Houston: your library has a problem.
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The spines have been changed to the following schema:

BATTLE
AUTHOR’S LAST NAME

GRADE LEVEL

A book on the 6th grade list, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, would have the following spine label:

BATTLE
CHOLDENKO

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With this schema, patrons aren’t required to consult their BoB list while perusing the collection. It’s definitely more patron-friendly and time saving, as well. While changing spines, I’m also re-classifying books which are no longer on the BoB list — and there are quite a few! (AHHHHHH!)

Further, I’ve created “Resource Lists” within my ILS to help facilitate staff when searching for BoB requests. By accessing a list for a specific grade, staff and patrons can see all of the BoB books and immediately know which ones are available. I created a new circulation type — Battle Book — and limited check-out to 2 books with only 1 renewal allowed. When I do my next MeL data drop, the BoB collection will be marked as non-requestable. I’d hate for them to go out on ILL for 30+ days while someone local needs the item for the competition. I also plan on publishing the lists on my library’s website — maybe create a seasonal Battle of Books page? We’ll see.

Schedule permitting, I’d really like to attend the Battles in March and cheer on the Deckerville groups.

Very straightforward stuff. Nothing earth shattering here; however, it feels amazing to exercise my library powers and make a difference not only within the walls of my library, but out in the community and in the lives of our young patrons. I hope Battle of Books inspires quality, cerebral conversations amongst their peers and subsequently encourages them to become lifelong readers.

Gavels and Cultivation

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hermionish.gavelA post that I recently shared touched on my efforts to launch an outreach program at my library. Here’s an update on that front: letters from the townships, complete with absentee voter contact information, have been making their way to my library.

On Monday evening, I attended a township board meeting, within my library’s service area, to not only introduce myself as the new director (it’s important for the public to be able to have a face with the name of an organization), but to give an overview of library services and details about the outreach program. As I predicted, it went extremely well and the group was enthusiastic — even asking a few questions about the library. Worth noting: in attendance, were several members from the public.

As a trustee on a township board, I appreciate being apprised by what’s happening in my community. I actually enjoy it when a government entity attends one of our meetings and shares their news. It makes me better informed which helps our citizens be better informed, as well. With that said, I’d like to cultivate actual relationships with these organizations — share relevant library news about projects and special events. I plan on attending a board meeting, to begin cultivating a relationship, for each of the municipalities which represent the areas in which my library serves before spring hits. (I don’t want to be “one of those” whom will only attend meetings when they are asking for money or support on a millage.)

A bit of advice for anyone interested in partaking in similar activities, please make contact with the board’s clerk or chairman in order to be added to the official agenda. Of course, with the Open Meetings Act, it’s acceptable for you to just show up and speak during the public comment portion of the meeting; however, I, personally (and professionally), don’t feel that it’s appropriate for your first visit. You’re asking for a small portion of their time — show them respect. Call or email ahead.

There’s nothing worse than sitting on a board or in a committee meeting, after a long day at work, and wondering what the unknown person — sitting in the gallery — is going to say (or even possibly yell) during the time allotted for public comment. It’s simple: be courteous and don’t blindside the board.

Teahouse Hearts

Taking a break from deleting some of our old bibliographic records from MeLCat yesterday, lead to this…

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…construction paper, a book I donated (The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery – great read, btw…) for my library’s book sale.

I hoped to use the images in a brochure that I began developing, but I think they’d be better suited on my library’s website and associated social media accounts.

If I Believe in Heaven

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My current read…

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On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

“Reading in bed can be heaven, assuming you can get just the right amount of light on the page and aren’t prone to spilling your coffee or cognac on the sheets.” -Stephen King

Plath in Pictures

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I took some time to hike the Tawas Point State Park and thought it’d be fun to make a post using some of the pictures I snapped while tying in literature…

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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“The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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“The silence drew off, baring the pebbles and shells and all the tatty wreckage of my life.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.” -Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

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“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I Want You (Not Really)

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Back when I was managing an organization which operated 24-hours a day, 365(6) days a year, I put these crisis-averting pieces of card stock into practice and I’ve now done so at my library…for toner, ink jet cartridges, etc.

hermionish.orderingNow there is no excuse to run out of anything…unless you’re lazy. ;)

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