eww public libraries – just kidding!

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. May be edited from the original post. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

I visited my local public library and while its not as bad as the kids’ parents told me, there wasn’t a huge selection of fiction books on offer. We have more books in our spinners! Still I liked their what’s new section (had six books in it which weren’t actually that new), there was a book displayed there which looked quite interesting – I think I’m going to buy it.

I think they could’ve done more really. It was all a bit bland apart from the toddler reading bit which was basically a play area in the middle of it. There were no posters advertising forthcoming books or even what they have that might be interesting. I always insist on havin fresh displays every term in my library. it felt a bit oppressive to tell you the truth. It’s visits like that that make me appreciate how nice my library actually is.

It’s daunting seeing a lot of books with just their spines showing – you need to attract the reader – tease them with colour. Dare I say it – break it up a bit.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, I’ll give them that. They don’t give phone numbers out though – strange policy – do they think I’m going to sell it on the black market for library phone numbers?

hey ho

I’m not reading that – it’s old!

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

 

Monday, 31 December 2007

I’m not reading that – it’s old!

As regular readers may know, I m approaching my first anniversary as a School Librarian. When I started I had worked before in business and government but never in a school so for a while I was flying blind (pun intened).

There didn’t appear to be that many user-friendly ideas for school librarian newbies on the net so I wanted to put a few tips on here for future newbies.

Our library is quite large for a school library I’m told. I’ve never worked in another one so I have to take their word for it, anyway there’s over 20,000 books in it. While I know there is a need to keep up to date on new literature, in fact we are always buying new stock, but there’s a lot of books there that just never gets read – and there’s some really good books there that I read when I was in school.

So here’s what I did:

  • Made genre specific displays. i.e. science-fiction, horror, historical…
  • Face out displays on the shelves

and my favourite, a tiny bit of trickery…

Choose books which don’t look that old. My first one was Dreameaver by Louise Lawrence. This was published in 1997 and was last taken out of the library in 1998. A perfect candidate and actually a really good book for sci-fi fans.

Next, I took out the date stamp sheet and put a brand spanking new one in its place and placed it casually on a window display (we have odd books on them (another of my ‘innovations’).

Within days it was taken out as the childen thought it was a new purchase. it has been borrowed since then as well. Critics among you may think that the child would have picked it up because it was out of the main stock. However to test this theory of mine I had removed it and artfully placed it somewhere else a month before with no success. As I mentioned before in this blog – a little trickery gets ’em reading!

Gee I hope they never read this or they will get wise and my circulation will go DOWN.

I don’t like reading…

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Monday, 17 December 2007

I don’t like reading…

This happened to me only last week.

The library was quite quiet and there were only a few children around. It was the end of the day and I didn’t want to start any big tasks. As the end of term was fast approaching I thought I would just remind a couple of them and see if I could get them to take some books out. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: So, have you got your books sorted for the end of term then? (in a light friendly tone, it’s good not to sound too desperate to improve the circulation figures at this point. Children can be soo fickle).
Child 1: I don’t like reading.
[A-ha, a challenge]
Child 2 with a horrified gasp: You can’t say that to the Librarian!
Child 1: It’s OK, She’s a nice Librarian. [She turns to a secretly delighted me]. I only like Jacqueline Wilson books and I’ve read all the ones you have here.
[Little does she know and why are Librarians always supposed to be scary?]
Me: Actually I’ve just bought some new teenage Jacqueline Wilson books, have you read those?
Child 1: No…
Child 2 runs eagerly to the far side of the library to pick a couple of the new ones up to show her. I walk away. I find the secret is to walk away at this point. It won’t mean anything if she feels pressurised into borrowing it. Anyway half an hour later, she takes one of the books out!

Riddle Me This for libraries

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Friday, 7 December 2007

Riddle Me This

When I began this job less than a year ago I was shocked at how few of the children knew how to find a book using the Dewey Decimal System. I’m not one to stand there and lecture them until their eyes glaze over, so I had to find a way to make them want to learn how it worked – enter the Daily Question!

The Question

This can be anything as long as an object is the answer. I find riddles and jokes the best. I put them on a board with a hint or clue. If you want to repeat this be ready for an onslaught of cat, house or outer space (anything that pops into their head) before they give up and use the clue provided.

The Clue

Just the Dewey Decimal number is best but if you have two books with the same classification like we have, then we put the page number on so they can work out if it is the correct book.

Example:

Here on earth it is true, yesterday is always before today, but there is a place where yesterday always follows today. Where?
Hint: Dewey Decimal, 423
Countless of hapless victims have been tricked into looking for books with just a number. I recommend using this method. It’s useful now as I can just give them a DD number when I am busy and they can toddle off to find the book, but when they go to university it will be an invaluable time-saving skill not just for them but for the University Librarians!

The Birds & The Bees

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

 

Thursday, 6 December 2007

The Birds & The Bees

It’s that talk every parent is supposed to dread, but what if you’re just the Librarian? Well, my assistant (Y) who used to work in a public library seems to have the perfect answer.

Picture the scene:

It’s lunchtime, you have a room full of teenagers, chattin’ away and reading or doing homeowork. A group of the gigglers (Year 8s) have just come in from a ‘Biology’ class. They want to find a book on reproduction.

“Fine,” you might say, “just this way” and lead them to the human biology section. They take the book and disappear into the corner.

The next five minutes are taken up by loans and requests for help on homework and then they come back.

“Miss, I don’t understand?” one of the girls say.
“What don’t you understand X” asks my assistant.
“I don’t understans what this page means” she replies.

The assistant has a quick look look to see what she is referring to and hides a grin.

Oh OK, read out to me what you don’t understand and I’ll try to explain it.

The girl starts to read quietly.

“I’m sorry X, I can’t quite catch what you are saying, can you say it a bit louder please?” My assistant asks with a deadpan expression

The girl glances around, no-one is looking at them so she carries on louder. “…and the man puts his thingy in…”

“What was that?”
“His thingy.”
“It doesn’t say that surely.” Y picks up the book and takes a closer look. She turns it back round and hands it back to the girl.
“No it doesn’t say that, you need to say the words or it won’t make sense”.

A look of panic crosses the girls face “He puts his penis in…” Her friends let out a peal of laughter and they all ran out of the library.

Funnily enough they’ve not asked us to explain it again…

Kidz! Who’d have ’em, eh?

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Today was another busy day down the mine, or should I say Library. 40 kids running riot around a library with me running around shouting shh, shhhhhhhh. …or the other favourite, QUUUIIIEEEETTTT.

We have a reading zone – note the careful choice of words there – Reading Zone. Do you see chat anywhere in that sentence? Nope, neither do I. So out of the 40 or so children about 15 were in the small reading area, blithely chatting away as if talk was going out of fashion.

We have a lovely reading area, a lovely black leather sofa, a couple of comfy chairs, a small square table and a few bean bags. The plan was to create a lovely environment where they could feel they could read in peace. Of course in practice that is not what happens…

Several year 7 and 8s descended on the library at 3.50. Huh? The school day doesn’t end until 4.00. Anyway, they come in, sign the sheet and head straight for the ‘reading zone’. I check they’ve signed in and follow them giving them the riot act, ie. this part of the room is for reading, I expect to see it after in the same condition as they found it and no, they can’t chat and yes the guiness book of records is OK as long as they are quiet about it.

Job done for ten minutes, I go to sit down back at the desk. Wait! what’s that, is it giggling I hear? After a long heartfelt sigh, I close the cataloguing window again, (will I ever get any work done in the late shift?) and lock the computer screen and trundle back to the corner where the reading zone is kept.

One boy is lolling on a bean bag groaning with the other kids pointing and giggling. I manage to calm them down with crossed arms and a magnificent glare (if I say so myself) and get told “Miss, he got hit in the ghoulies with a football’

Now what I ask you was I supposed to reply to that?

The RSPCP – Calling all pen lovers

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past from when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old BattyLibrarian Blog…

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The RSPCP – Calling all pen lovers

 

I work in a secondary school library (High school equivalent for any Americans). Reading the Vampire Librarian blog reminded me of the RSPCP faze around last February.

My assistant was checking some pens and throwing them away when they were dry. A group of Year 7 girls (11 year olds) caught her in the act of throwing them in the bin.

For about a month we were then lambasted for being cruel librarians with no thought for the feelings of the poor hard working unwanted pens. Can anyone else hear those violins? It was so serious they were going to call the RSPCP.

What is the RSPCP you may ask? Wait for it… The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pens. I ask you, has anyone heard of anything so daft. The good news was it kept them busy for the rest of one lunchtime composing a letter to the this mythical society.

Ahh the joy of a school librarian.

Five Reasons Why I Loved/Hated Being a School Librarian

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Five Reasons Why I Love/Hate Being a School Librarian

 

I’m finding writing this blog quite cathartic, so I thought the next thing was to write about five reasons why I love and hate being a school librarian.

Why I absolutely love it

The children
The children do make it worthwhile. I love the way they think, the enthusiasm and the way they seem to appreciate what I do for them.

The challenge
Every day is a challenge. From the moment you unlock the library to the time you leave, its non-stop. Remember at those job interviews they ask you about prioritization? Well, if you are rubbish at it then you’d have to resign the next day! There’s so much to do the time just flies by. …and don’t get me started on multi-tasking…

The books
Well this was an obvious one – who’d become a librarian if they didn’t like books! There’s always the thrill of spending someone else’s money on books, but most of all I love the smell of them as well. mmmm, Bisto

The creative side
Where can I get started on this one. From the creation of leaflets, posters to computerising the accounts and arranging the furniture. If you want to use your creative side then this is the job to do it!

The quiet!
When break and lunch ends and its just the sixth formers quietly studying I almost think it is heaven…

Why I hate it

The Library as a dumping ground
This means the naughty children who get sent in because the teachers don’t know what else to do with them to being the place equipment gets dumped because we happen to be open all the time. My favourite is laptops and cameras. We only hold them because no-one else wants the responsibility and the reason mentioned before. I love the way teachers come in to book the laptop and expect me to know a) what software is precisely on the thing and b) to know how to fix it if it goes wrong. If I wanted to be an IT bleeding consultant I would have done an IT qualification not a MSc in Library studies! …and then the idiots go an lend it to another teacher without telling me and the others expect me to know where the stuff is at all times. I’m stuck in the library – I can’t go chasing after errant staff members all the time! Grr.

Prep
Looking after 50-60 children on my own after school ends. I’m not trained in childcare and I dread that something bad will happen. Unfortunately it is the one thing I really do not like about my job. It is impossible to control that many children but I am expected to. If I complain then I am told that is what the job entailed and they explained it in the interview. I never dreamed that I would be expected to look after that many though and I’m pretty sure that it would scare a lot of other librarians as well!

Management
I am in charge of the library but still have a line manager, which made sense when I was new to the job. However what is the point of a line manager who does no personnel reviews, doesn’t make decisions or give important information when needed? For example, if something is arranged for the library we don’t always get told. Just the other week a meeting was arranged in the middle of baby-sitting duty (Prep) one night and the first we found out about it was when the canteen staff delivered the drink for it around mid-day. I had to chase my line manager to find out what was happening!

Lack of Communication
Unfortunately the library staff is neither part of the teaching or admin staff. we are classed as other and get forgotten. I have to constantly chase people to find out what is happening. I also have to take every opportunity to collar teachers to find out what they are teaching and what kind of resources they need for the library (They never turn up for meeting – they forget).

The hours
I work part-time as a lot of school librarians do. It is very difficult to get the work done in the time allocated. I know I criticise CILIP a lot but they do acknowledge that a full time librarian is needed in schools which includes working in the holidays. I work approximately 75-80% of term-time. Personal development has to be done in my own time. fair enough I do that anyway – Its just annoying.