Tag Archives: librarianship

The Genre Dragon Rears Its Ugly Head…Again

I have been watching a heated debate over the past few days on a major worldwide library listserv of which I am a member. It’s the age-old debate of whether or not genre-fying your library is a good idea. Quite honestly, I am tired of the the bickering. Come on, library world! We are adults! LET IT GO!!! (insert huge eye roll here and throw back the head in disgust)

Okay, now that I have sufficiently yelled out my frustration, I’ll get to the point. In simple language…do what is right for your patrons and your library. Seriously, it’s as easy as that. Melvil Dewey was not a perfect person. Hence, his system is also not a perfect system. If it was, all fiction would remain in the 800 section. While there may be some library out there that does this, I know of not a single library in my area (both public and school) that puts their fiction section in the 800s.

While my nonfiction section still proudly boasts Dewey’s numbers, I chose to genrefy my fiction section for numerous reasons. I think I posted this in an earlier blog, but I’ll do it again for my own sanity.

1. My junior high English staff was doing a type of genre study through Reading Discovery classes. Countless times, students would come up to me asking questions such as, “Where are your science fiction books?” I would throw wide my arms and say, “They are everywhere. Go look in Destiny (OPAC) and start searching.” We had a line of kids trying to get to a computer to search in Destiny (they had been trained) while others wandered aimlessly or created mayhem as myself and my aide would be running all over the library trying to help. While I appreciate job security, I needed the students to be more self-sufficient.

2. Our local public library had been separating some popular genres for years such as Westerns and Christian Fiction based on patron needs.

3. Space was an issue in my library. I have two distinct areas where nothing really fit well.

4. I needed a way to boost my circulation for two reasons.
-I needed a better way to market my library to justify its existence. I don’t want to run a mediocre library.
-I needed a better way to market myself to justify my educational existence via my evaluation. Change can stimulate creativity.

It’s been about 3 years since I’ve genre-fied my fiction section. The first year my circulation stats went up 16% and continues to go up each year, even though our student population stays relatively the same. We rarely get asked how to find a book. The students know how to use my OPAC for both fiction and nonfiction. They are happy, I am happy, we are allllll happy. Isn’t that what Melvil Dewey would have wanted in the end?

So, if you choose to genre-fy…GREAT! If you choose not to genre-fy…GREAT! But both sides need to just LET IT GO and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. Let the Genre Dragon get some well-deserved rest. (By the way…books about dragons are in my Fantasy section.)

Onward and Upward

Currently reading:  Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots by AJ Mass.

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Marketing 101

I have never taken a marketing class. I don’t know much about branding, marketing plans, product positioning, etc. Those things weren’t covered in my library classes. However, I do know that I need to have great products (books) in order to create interest in a target audience (staff and students). I need good signage to make my library user-friendly. And I need to communicate to my larger audience. Here’s where it gets tricky. What is my most effective way to communicate?

I am currently trying the following things:

1. Staff newsletter: Each month I create a newsletter through Smore. It’s free! (Free is always good.) I can list upcoming events, new DVDs just purchased, new books, fun dates to remember, etc. I usually include a YouTube book trailer as well. I make my own book trailers on Animoto through my FREE educator’s account. I’ve made a lot of trailers and am working on getting them onto my YouTube Channel. Check out my February newsletter.

2. My Big Campus: The big push for student communication in our school is to fully implement My Big Campus by August 2014. It has its ups and downs, but is supposed to be user friendly. My problem? How do I let the kids know to join my site? This is why I need to take a marketing class. Will simple signs work? Should I send out an announcement for a daily p.a. system? Should I recruit kids to “pass the word”. Will a big display in the library catch their eye? Oh, what a dilemma…(insert heavy sigh with back of hand raised to forehead).

My oldest son is majoring in Entrepreneurship in college. I think it’s time to have a little chat. Maybe I can bribe him with homemade cookies and a 3-month supply of coffee.

Onward and upward!

Currently reading: Proxy by Alex London

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Where Have I Been???

I have not entered a single thing on this blog since last July. Was I on my middle-age tour of the world? No. Was I sitting in solitary confinement for breaking a law of the Dewey Decimal variety? No. Was I sitting on the beach in Jamaica selling jewelry to fund my retirement. Sadly, no. So, what was I doing?

I was being a dedicated wife, mom, librarian, church member, accompanist, committee member, etc, etc, etc. I have been involved in something known as …wait for it…drumroll, please…LIFE!

Now that I am ready to take a stab at this again, I ponder what would not only benefit me (through this process of contemplative writing), but also what might benefit someone else who may read this blog (sadly, still no followers). But there is hope. I will be speaking at a conference in May, and I am seeing the importance of marketing not only myself but my library as well.

Here I am big wide world. I’m back.

Currently reading: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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Am I nuts?

It’s the middle of July and suddenly I want school to start. Seriously???

Yep, something must be wrong. Or, is something right? Does that mean I am a truly dedicated civil servant? Do I miss my colleagues and students that much? Or am I so addicted to a routine that I crave a rigid schedule again?

In a way, it’s ‘yes’ to all of the above. I enjoy my job as a public school librarian. I enjoy conversing with adults and pre-adults. I enjoy routines.

Over the past few days my brain has been wrestling with itself. I’ve been thinking about how I will decorate the two showcases outside of the library. Then I think to myself, “Are you nuts? Enjoy the summer. STOP THINKING ABOUT SCHOOL!!!” But a little while later, the showcases pop back into my head. This happens when I’m weeding the garden, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, etc. Maybe these thoughts of school are my inner-child’s way of trying to get out of work at home.

Whatever the case may be, August 12th (Staff Day) quickly approaches. The students will enter our buildings on August 13th with their squeaky new shoes, new school clothes, backpacks filled with new notebooks, pencils, and calculators. I’ve got a couple of carts filled with new books, waiting to see the smiles on their faces.

Yep…I’m looking forward to it.

Currently reading: Clean by Amy Reed

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Summer!!!

Much to my chagrin, I have come to the realization that I have to move my library…again! I was really hoping that this would be a summer that was free of much physical exertion in my library. Thanks to my corporation, I have a fairly healthy budget and have been able to really beef up my fiction section over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of room. (No, really…it’s a good problem to have.)

My fiction section is outranking my nonfiction section. That seems odd in this day and age of the popular buzzwords “Common Core Standards”. Shouldn’t I be adding to my nonfiction section? Well, I would do that if I knew the books would actually be checked out by teachers and students. But really, the teachers are so busy that they aren’t coming into my library to do research as much as in the past years.

So why have my circulation statistics been going up? It seems that they should be going down. That’s where my fiction section comes in to play. It seems as if the students are being hammered so hard with nonfiction texts in the classroom, they simply need a break from reality. They just want to read for pleasure. How cool is that!!! Research has been done that proves recreational reading increases success in school. (Google Dr. Keith Curry Lance and you’ll see what I mean.) So, I’ll continue to purchase for my patrons.

To the Common Core enthusiasts out there…be not dismayed! I have purchased some nonfiction titles that connect with some research that teachers have been doing with their students. I’m also trying to update popular subjects. (I’m trying hard not to roll my eyes and say, “Duh”.)

So, raise your glass to summer vacation (ice tea, of course). But think of the librarians in your neighborhood who might be sweating and building muscles as they move thousands of books for your kids. Who needs Zumba classes?!

Currently reading: Planesrunner by Ian McDonald

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Evaluations

How do I prove my worth as a librarian? How do I show others that I am not just a “book jockey”? I should have gotten a degree in marketing, because then I might have a better idea as how to market myself and my library.

In the wonderful state of Indiana, our methods of evaluating teachers has morphed in a fast and furious manner. In some ways, this is good. In other ways, we are struggling to keep up with the change. Since I am under a teacher’s contract, I must be evaluated like a teacher. However, I do not teach a single group of students day after day.

Wait, let me rephrase that. I teach students every day. However, I am not in charge of formally assessing these students. Each day is different. On any given day I might work with groups of 11th graders using research databases, then move on to individual students struggling with their Power Point presentations. By the afternoon, I’m working with high school students trying to choose books for required reading. In between I’m answering emails and phone calls from staff members about a variety of technical and curricular issues.

Here’s the question…How can I be observed and evaluated if I don’t write a single lesson plan? Fortunately my state library association has developed a rubric that evaluates librarians while keeping in line with state guidelines. Unfortunately I am the only one in my corporation to which this rubric applies. It seems unfair to my administrator to have to learn an 18-page rubric just for me. However, it would be unfair to me to use a teacher’s rubric to evaluate me.

Such a conundrum…

I am alone in my corporation, but yet I take solace in the fact that I know am not totally alone. I am thankful for a statewide, nationwide and worldwide network of librarians that can empathize. We know that we are worthwhile. Now I just have to market that sentiment to my bosses.

Onward and upward….

Currently reading Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

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