Q&A My books have gone from Calibre, how do I get them back?

ceri's q and aMy books have gone, how do I get them back? A quick tip from A Simpler Guide to Calibre.

A Simpler Guide to Calibre
A Simpler Guide to Calibre, available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.

It can happen that when you first load Calibre your books all seemed to have disappeared. This is usually because the software has been told your e-books library has moved to a different folder and is now pointing to the wrong place. This has happened to me during upgrades for example. Another reason may be that a special file called metadata.db (which is in the folder where your books are stored) has been deleted or corrupted. You will either need to tell Calibre where your books really are or rebuild the f
ile that is missing.

If your library has moved

Find the Calibre Library icon/logo (as seen below), then choose Switch/create library.

Switching to a Calibre library

Click on the little picture to the right of the box to browse your computer for the folder you just created and ignore the already checked Use the previously existing library at the new location and click OK. Your books should now reappear.

If the file metadata.db has been moved or corrupted

If you cannot find a file named metadata.db in the top folder where your library is located on your computer, it has been deleted. You may also encounter problems if it has been corrupted in some way. To fix this:

  1. First right-click on the Calibre icon in the Calibre toolbar (as above) and choose Library maintenance.
  2. Select Restore database and Calibre will rebuild the metadata.db file.

ceri's q and a

Q&A Have a small library but cannot afford a library management system (LMS) like Oliver, Unicorn or IS OXFORD? How about trying Calibre the free ebook library software?

Final - CALIBRE EBOOKI worked in libraries for over 11 years before giving up work to look after my son and write books. I understand that sometimes small libraries whether they are school libraries or corporate information departments don’t have the money to buy a full-blown library catalogue.

When you work in these organisations you may not need all the features of a full-blown library management system. If that is the case for you, give Calibre a look.

Calibre is free software downloadable from the internet. You can install it like any desktop application on your computer and use tags to catalogue your book’s physical locations.

In my book, A Simpler Guide to Calibre, I also explain how you can use tags to mark a book as out on loan or have virtual libraries so you can see at a glance which books are on loan and their due date.

If you only need a library catalogue for basic cataloguing but no budget or accessible IT department then Calibre could be your answer. Have one computer in your library set up and use it to search and loan your books.

You can not only use the catalogue to find your ebooks (which it is designed for) but you can add physical media such as music CDs or movie DVDs. The software can be used in a variety of ways with a little imagination.

It’s a great way to have a classic ebook collection. Fill up the catalogue with Jane Austen’s, Edgar Allan Poe’s or Robert Louis Stevenson’s books from the Gutenberg project and have a classic collection that will entertain for hours at no extra cost. You can add kindle addresses and get them sent to your customers’ Kindles.

If you don’t have a budget but you need an easy way to organize your books why not give it a try? The software is free after all!

Please stay tuned for other ways to get the most out of Calibre.

Thanks for dropping by.

Now for the obligatory mention of my relevant book:

Final - CALIBRE EBOOKA Simpler Guide to Calibre: How to organize, edit and convert your eBooks using free software for readers, writers, students and researchers for any eReader.

Buy from Amazon:

eBook | Paperback

ceri's q and a

Online courses: Don’t be a troll and be rude to your customers

trollsAs anyone who has spent time with me knows, I love to learn. I have taken countless courses over the years, some great, some not so much. I have done university degrees, specialist courses in library work, editing, web design and even a short writing course on the Isle of Wight. The latter wasn’t just great though, that was an amazing course. If you want to do a residential course I would check out Felicity Fair Thompson’s!

Anyway, I thought I would try out some of those online courses that you hear about. I’d tried Coursera in the past and that was actually very good but the course that got my attention was one where I would have to pay some money.

The course I was interested in was around $500. I think this is an inordinate amount of money for an online course. Now I don’t like to do anything immoral or illegal so I thought I might be disappointed in my desire to try the course. By the way I do not intend to say what this course was or what platform it was on. I don’t think that would be fair as I have a problem with the tutor not the course itself and definitely not the platform! The actual course itself was actually quite good, the tutor’s attitude however had a little to be desired. Although anyone could probably work out what the course was with a bit of searching! I’m not one to disparage other people’s skills.

So given that I won’t do anything dishonest or illegal what was I to do? What any cash strapped ex-librarian would do. I searched for a coupon. Lo and behold the tutor himself had put a link on to a forum with the course reduced to about £10. Awesome. So I bought it.

The course was about YouTube. The reason I took it was that I have very little experience of the service. Sure I’ve put up a couple of videos but it is years since I set up the account.

I watched a few of the lectures and there were a few times when I thought, “This guy’s a genius”. Other times, my brows would furrow and at others I just smiled and thought well, that’s obvious.

If you boil the course down, it’s basically informing you about the creative commons section of YouTube and how you can edit the videos on there to monetize them. It tells you to use Titles, keywords and thumbnails. There is some stuff about analytics but that’s basically it.

So you take those elements and you look at how much that applies to libraries and my other experiences. Well, titles and keywords relate to libraries in a big way. The library world (OK the IT world does as well) calls it metadata. There is a lot of information on that on the web and I have had a lot of experience using these. There is also a crossover to being an author. The guy waxes lyrical about thumbnails which are basically the book covers of the video world. As every author (should) know your book covers should be clear legible, eye-catching and make a statement. This is exactly what this guy advocates.

So my views at this point of having a quick pass through the course and skipping bits that I already know about was that it was useful, inspired in some areas but then I realised that it didn’t have some fundamentals like how to set up a new YouTube channel. I could work this out but I have paid for this course, not full price but other people have. So I ask a question on his forum:


I saw somewhere it said you can have more than one identity but nothing about setting one up. It seems to jump straight into descriptions and tags etc. I have to admit I skipped some of this. I spent 11 years dealing with titles and descriptions as a Librarian so I know a little about those.

As you can see I ask about setting up a new identity (channel) and I just explain that I skipped some of the course because I knew about the concepts because of my occupation.

Why did I do that? Well the lecturer bangs on about people not going through the course and not understanding because of it so I wanted to explain that although he could see from the stats that I didn’t go through those parts of the course (which by the way was irrelevant to the question anyway but he mentioned that he got annoyed about that in the course) but that I knew about them from prior experience. I would like to point I wasn’t being confrontational and in fact was trying to be helpful for other students. He did after all say he liked feedback in one of his courses.

His response:

You definitely need to fully study and understand titles, descriptions and tags, please – they are crucial to your success and have nothing to do with libraries.

Please see lecture 1.



So I’m starting to get annoyed here. “I need to fully study and understand titles, descriptions and tags?” Hellloooooo, I explained why I already understand them. His bit about nothing to do with libraries explains his ignorance of library work. Just in case though, I went through his extremely boring sections on metadata (boring, because I already knew about them), and yes, he didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know. So I responded. I probably shouldn’t have though.

I beg to differ, I have a masters degree in metadata and information science as most qualified Librarians do (It’s rare to just have a BA degree). I have made websites and published books, inputting descriptions and tags using this information. In libraries we use catalogues (Library management systems) where you have to put titles, descriptions and keywords or the patrons do not find the books that you have catalogued. If you know nothing about library work, you really shouldn’t make assumptions. I did watch some of your video on the subject and it was really like teaching a proverbial granny to suck eggs. Although other parts of the course I did find extremely useful

I did finally work it out, I just thought you might have appreciated the feedback that some pointers for creating the channel in the first place would be helpful.

So there you have it, my full explanation, surely he would just let it be. I’ve told him how my experience related maybe not all of it but how some of my experiences relates. But no, wait, he says something else:

Oh dear!

You made me chortle!

Without cheating, by suddenly bothering to study the course, tell me how you would headline this video for YouTube, please. It’s currently called

“Understanding The Relativ Index”

[Name taken out to protect identity] – a relative of Mr. Dewey, incidentally … cousin on my Mum’s side of the family

So the guy had a family member who came up with the Dewey Deceimal system that died before the internet and therefore he knows enough about library work to assume that it is unrelated. I wonder if he knows about the Library of Congress cataloguing system? 🙂 Oh and he now wants to test me? Bleeding hot underworld, I have to respond. My husband is shouting, “Don’t do it he’s a troll!” from across the room, but he is really getting under my skin at this point. Should have listened to hubby!

Then you really shouldn’t insult librarians. There is more to knowing about library work than knowledge of the DDC. I understand that you might get frustrated with people asking questions. I once had to continually reply to emails about tags and labs on Gmail because they knew of my book on Gmail. I don’t believe we are getting anywhere with this conversation. I just expected a link in an answer. I wasn’t expecting a veiled insult on my profession as well. I shall of course let my colleagues know that they nothing of taxonomy and other metadata and they should resign from their positions in the government and business as soon as they can. Really, do people think that all Librarians do nothing but shelve books and say shhh! all day?

I do think those sections of your course is useful to those that have never studied or worked in information science but insulting the intelligence and knowledge of people who apparently deign to be your student is ridiculous. Your course is good but not everyone is a newbie to *all* the concepts you teach.

I believe your reply “bothering to study the course” rather than to actually just accept feedback is classed as trolling and I won’t be giving this conversation any more of my time.

Now I haven’t read his response, I read one line and he still won’t acknowledge that he is not the only person in the world that could possibly know about metadata outside of his course. He can’t seem to grasp that concepts are applicable across different fields and while he is obviously clever, he has a blind spot that makes him think that is applying wisdom that only he could possible know. Now there are a great many things I have no knowledge of (hence the courses I enroll on) but I have my experiences and I have my training and also his training now so I have a rounded picture of what he is talking about. He only seems to know what he has found out and doesn’t want to open his mind to find out how it can be applied elsewhere.

With regard to metadata, specifically keywords, I’m going to give a tip that I’ve known about for years and I won’t be charging $499 for it. You can find out what people are searching for in Google by using their keyword planner at https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner. Remember YouTube is owned by Google and videos will come up in Google searches. Applicable to YouTube videos, books and anything you sell on Amazon.

Find out what people are searching for and how many are searching for it. Use these words to plan your titles, your descriptions and your tags. See, it’s not that hard is it? Oh, but I forget I’m not supposed to know about it. Strike that last paragraph from your minds…

So you want to be a Librarian?

Before you take on a job as a librarian, first find out if it is what you really want to do.

The majority of jobs require a degree in librarianship and some demand a post-graduate degree in the subject. Sometimes the pay is really good, but at other times not so good. I would say you have to look at each job on its merits. For an example of wages, my job as a school librarian (in 2008) before it was pro-rata’d was around £26,000, I know the public sector school librarian’s pay was around £17,000 – and they are the highly paid ones! As a Library Manager at the Audit Commission I make just shy of £27,000 pro rata’d, if I worked in a university the same job would net me around £35,000 in my ‘catchment area’.

Also look at the job spec.. In the school, there were parts I hated but there were others I really loved as well. Notably I loved the actual librarian side stuff but schools expect more. For example I looked after 40-60 school children on my own for two hours each evening. Not really clever considering I am partially sighted but that is what the school wanted – a part time librarian who doesn’t mind baby sitting.  School Librarians do not have the same authority as a school teacher for example and the children for the most part know it. It is a constant battle of wits with certain segments of the school population with the minimum of help from the Academic staff. But, and that is an extremely big but, working with children is worth it. They brighten your day and make you enjoy life without trying.

Things to love about being a Librarian:
Buying new books – ooh they smell gooood
Cataloguing- mindless but relaxing
The interaction with the good kids – they can be really funny!
Interaction with people.
Having control of your department, from spending to how the library looks.
Getting to read kiddie books
The HOLIDAYS (only working in a school).

Things to hate about being a Librarian:
Interaction with the bad kids
Having to shout at/tell off kids

The job is firmly weighted in the advantages side of the debate. Only you can say if it would appeal to you but I love being a Librarian and I can’t think of a better job – except a writer :-).

THE Carnegie Event

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Carnegie Medal time has arrived again. While this does enable me to have two days out of the library it also means a small amount of stress organising the trip.

I should explain what we do to shadow the Carnegie Awards here. Well as you know there are seven books on the shortlist this year. We have to select seven pupils – one for each book and take them over to a school where each kid designs (with 12 other kids from other schools) a play based on the books. The next day they perform it at a local theatre with authors and dignitaries judging.

This year is easier and yet harder at the same time for me. The event cincidentally occurs in Activities week in our school so most of the children are on other school trips abroad. The ones that stay behind have to help with ecoschools and from what I gather it basically means cleaning the school up!

Anyway so I have a finite group to choose from (some I won’t touch with a barge pole but some are great) Unfortunately I may have to choose some of the first group to go with me. Woe is me.

The budget is also a bit of a problem at the moment. It’s at the end of the year and the accounts department get a bit ancy about spending money (even though I have enough in my budget!

The other librarians I’m told usually buy three books of each of the shortlisted titles. They then get the children to write reviews on each one and choose the best. I can’t afford to do this so I’ve got them telling me their first, second and third choice and pulling their names out of a hat so I only have to buy one of each.

Then it’s actually getting them to want to go. A couple were like “yeah yeah, I really want to go. Can I go? please, please, I’ll be good!” Others were like “um, I’ll have to tink about it, what else is going on that week?”

Interestingly enough when I mention that the alternative is to pick up litter in the school, they become strangely interested…

Always keep the key with you…

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…


Some time ago we had the locks to the library and the computer rooms changed to the same key. Now I think this is stupid for a number of reasons but we won’t go into that. Anyway, all the locks are the same and they gave us one key to hand out to teachers and/or sixth formers who need to use the adjacent computer room.

Each time someone asks for the key we note their name down, smile and give them the key. We then go about our business, content in the knowledge that whoever signed it out is almost guaranteed not to be the person who hands in back in. Still, who are we to argue. I suppose by noting the first person to take the key they can follow a trail…

Back to the story. I was busy sorting out the new stationary I bought for the kids when the DT teacher walks in again after taking the key out only ten minutes before:

“Do you have another key”

I look quizzically at him “Why, what happened to the first one?”

“I was looking for some stragglers when they locked me out from inside the classroom. i can hear them giggling from the corridor.”

I sigh and take my personal set of keys out and walk down to the offending room. I put the key in and try to turn it. It’s stuck! The little so and so’s had left the key in the lock on the other side.

The teacher shrugs and says”Oh well, seems I’ve got a free then” and walks off to the staff room.

…just another day in a school.

Hysterical teenager

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

I have to admit I’m not proud of myself. The problem with being short-sighted is that you don’t get all the information that everyone else does and you can interpret what you see to things that aren’t actually there!

A few days ago, one of the 12 year-old girls came in to the library just after lunch. I was alone and slightly distracted as I was beginning to write the end of term report.

She comes in sobbing her little heart out.

“Miss, I don’t know where to go. I can’t talk to anyone else.”

Aww sweet, that meant I began to actually really listen and look at her. I could hear she was crying from the noises she was making but what I saw shocked me. It looked like someone had punched her and ripped off some of her skin on her right side just under her eye. Unthinking I just said:

“Jesus, are you alright?”

Suitably justified by my reaction she starts telling me how the kids are mean to her and that she has been to the Deputy Head but nothing can be done. It’s at this point I realise she’s not been in a fight but just has pink make-up on her face. Oh well, it just looks like I am a very understanding Librarian. My bad eye-sight secret is still safe….

In case you are wondering, the girl went back to lessons, she just wanted to have a rant in to a sumpathetic ear. It all blew over in a couple of days.


Just another school book fair

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

From World Book Day I have ben presiding over our second book fair since joining my school. I got to tell you – its no picnic.

First day we did it (6 March) was a preview day so we just had to worry about setting up but even that day had its problems. As you know from reading this blog, the daily baby-sitting session known as prep is in the library. So try to imagine keeping 45 kids quiet with all those shiny new books just begging to be picked up and oohed and aahed over. Needless to say I failed.

Day two, we decided to make break for reservatios only as it is only for fifteen minutes. We’re librarians not mathematicians – you try working out the cost of several books, with a voucher nad answering questions while making sure they don’t destroy any more books than you can prevent! If you are wondering we got that down to one. They took out toy bits from one book and put the on a different shelf. Aargh.

Lunchtime arrives, hordes of kids descend on us, all asking for their reservaions, to buy other books. oh and “Miss, I don’t want that book now, can I have this one.” Yeah if you can do the maths for me, Of course I don’t say that, I just smile sweetly and say “yes”, getting out the calculator.

So there we were, about ten kids in my queue and ten kids in my assistant’s. …and the book fair people call. I mean they were calling a library in a school. Is calling at lunchtime a really sensible thing to do to get on the librarian’s good side? hmm. Finally get her off the line with non-committal answers and get back to to the hordes. Ten minutes later, 2 o’clcck and bliss. We’ve stil got two more days of this…


Recognition at last – pay rise!

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

One of the major problems working in a school library is you don’t get the recognition for what you’ve achieved which can get a bit demoralising. My way round this is to write reports to the senior management telling them how great I am with examples.

It seems this has paid off along with some persistance from my colleague. My assistant is paid appallingly and she really needed a pay rise. She’s a great worker, really intelligent, goes over and above the call of duty and can keep the kids in line. What more could a school ask for!

Anyway she put a package together putting her strengths in, the recommended wages for an assistant librarian and a spectacular performance review from me. Turns out they are going to pay us BOTH more in September. Yeeha for the Librarians.

Another note, how do other librarians out there advertise their book fairs? I have spent the morning stuffing 100s of envelopes with an invitation, competition entry, World Book Day voucher and other blurb. My assistant created a poster for the competition – to be honest she created the competition too (I did one last year) and we’ve put up book fair posters as well. On the plus side I am going to be really muscular in my arms from filling envelopes by the time this thing is finished!


Current day note: Here’s something to think about, in my eleven year career in library and information, I have worked equally for public and private empoyers. I have always received pay rises from private employers but not public…

Boys voluntarily tidying? – My personal favourite experience as 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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Just a short one today 🙂

I was doing a late shift and there were three of four kids left in the library when another three walked in, two boys and a girl. They sat at the desk opposite from where I sit. They weren’t being too noisy but there were some strange sounds coming from there so I looked over my monitor like a timid giraffe peaking over a fence.

One of the boys spotted me looking at him and changed tack from whatever he was doing.

Boy 1 says to Boy 2Boy 2, I dare you to tidy up the library!.”
Interesting I think. I’ve not come across this before so I say, “What does he get if he does it?”
“A small bit of his dignity back” he replies with a snigger.
At this point I would never think in a million years that this is going to work and then:
“OK” Boy 2 answers and promptly starts tidying up the library. Boy 1 looks me straight in the eye (that description is a bit of an exaggeration ‘cos I can’t see that far, but he was definitely looking in my direction) and says to me, “You owe me.”

Now what should I have said to that?

P.S. Boy 2 spends about 15 minutes tidying up the library until I am actually impressed, sits down next to boy 1 who says in a deadpan voice, “You’ve actually lost dignity now.”

Go figure.


Friday blues…

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…


Well, Friday was quite fun. I had to do the late shift as my assistant needed to do something that night. To be honest I don’t mind its usually quiet on a Friday (relatively speaking that is!) Well, this Friday was no different.

I got in the requuisite half an hour early (I hate public transport), actually 33 minutes early this time. Then again I suppose its better than being late.

First I went to check to see if the food had arrived in the kitchen, it hadn’t so I toddled up to the library and thought I’d spend a quiet few minutes in the cupboard reading a book until my shift starts. I only get paid for working part-time hours and I tend to do more hours than that anyway so I get rebellious now and again and want to do the hours they pay me for. Foiled again, it’s locked.

So I trundle along to the desk and my assistant waves her keys at me asking if I want to borrow them. At this point my rebelliousness wears off and I decide it won’t kill me to give the school yet another 20 minutes of my time for free.

So the day goes pretty quickly, I’m still sorting out the careers section of the library. It’s been neglected for several years. It’s great if you want to find out what courses to study in Science in 1999 or what university was like in 1987 but some of the newer books are fewer and far between. Don’t get me wrong there was the Student book 2006 and The big guide 2007 and 2008. The previous Librarian had bought some new books, but just never weeded the old stock.

So this is the task I set myself for this month, try to sort out the mess known as the careers library. [I always said I liked a challenge.] I managed to catalogue about 6 books by 4pm when the first influx of kids trickle in. I’m really proud of myself at this point!

First I had to stop and settle them down as soon as they came in. The boys go to one side of the room and the girls the other. Mainly because I had to split up the boys as soon as they came in but we won’t go into that.

I was doing the usual, “Please girls shush, you need to work quietly now.” When one of the girls spots its me.

Each of us ‘Librarians’ has our favourites among the pupils and this girl is one of mine although we don’t like to show it. She’s cheeky but in a nice way. There’s no malice and she is usually really funny if a little random.

Today, she spots me and goes “oh Librarian, it’s you, High Five.” and she lifts her hand up.

I shrug and lift my hand and she smacks mine in a high five movement. ..and before I can go back to the desk she gives me a great big bear hug. I freeze. This was really embarrassing for me. I usually have a personal space boundary of about a foot. I’m shy and I like to keep my distance.

This time I didn’t have time to react so I just stood there with my arms to my side until she let go. I gave a quick nervous grin and scarpered back to the relative safety of my desk and shouted again at the boys who were chatting nearby.

At this point I’ll revise my former statement in another post. I don’t shout usually in the day time, but after school baby-sitting sessions are quite another matter.

A more cynical person could say this was a ploy. Now could it be that she gave me a hug so I would be nonplussed and wouldn’t tell her off for talking or is she just a sweet girl with a lovable nature? You decide!

Don’t mess with a 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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Today has been yet another busy day but there was something worth writing about this time!

I arranged for the careers service to come visit me at 11.30 to help me get to grips with the new system. For those who don’t know, it has changed from the CLCL to CLCI although it might have gone the other way – the initials are so similar!

Anyway, Since I have only been a school librarian for just over a year and the careers section has its own way of organising itself, I didn’t know how to organise the old system or the new system. Hence the request for assistance. hey at least I’m honest – If I don’t know the answer I can admit it and know where to go!

So I booked them at 11.30 knowing break ends at 11.20 thereby giving myself 10 minutes of grace. Yep you guessed it they came early. At about 11.15!

So there I was checking out books, answering questions, keeping an eye on the kids and generally trying to hold it together without exploding at the misbehaving lot in the corner, I know we are good at multi -tasking but school librarians should really get medals for this!

I go over and solicitously ask them if they would like to take a seat as I was in the middle of break. I mean duh, it was a bit obvious. They agreed and sat down while I went back to my desk to check the time. I’ve got to be honest I closed the library for break a tad earlier than I normally would, but then the kids left pretty much on time give or take (take) five minutes.

The usual way of clearing the library means the 50 decibels shout, “OK everyone time to go back to class. Pack up your stuff. Log off the computers…..” And then the walking around the library just to get the message across that the noise they heard was indeed me telling them go back to class and not for the benefit of my health.

So I got to the other side of the library and saw a group of three. I noticed one boy had a bag. I don’t allow bags during break because of the trip risk. So I ask him if he was going to be in the library for the lesson. He says no, just waiting for his friend. So I say, OK, wait for him outside. He says OK but just stays there staring at his friend. I say, now please. Stil in a nice conversational way you understand. He puts his bag on his shoulder and says he was going anyway, so I turn away thinking job done.

I scootch around to the reading zone – nobody there, make sure that no one is hiding behind the free-standing shelving and lo and behold the boys are still there and the one WITH HIS BAG. Now this has now become a threat to my authority. He has obviuosly flouted the rules and taken advantage of my good nature and ignored my instructions. So I stalk up to him and say, really loudly:


He looks at me as if reevaluating me and scarpers for it. Now that was a job well done. future trouble maker put in his place.

The library is now empty apart froma couple of giggling sixth formers (I never normally shout so it was quite unusual) and the careers people. I walk over to them and they say:
“Wow, I wouldn’t mess with YOU”.

I wonder if I can get them to tell the kids that?


There’s something strange going on…

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

So it’s Monday afternon. we’ve got a new set of children hanging around the desk wanting to chat (it varies on the monitor behind the desk) and I’m helping the new pupil librarian learn how to use the library software for checkins and checkouts. The giggle girls saunter over.

I’m suspicious of these at the best of times but as they took out my classics a few days ago they are in my good books at the moment. The ‘leader’ goes

‘Libwarian, you’re the best librarian in the world.’ That’s not a typo by the way. And my response?
‘What do you want?’ in a world weary tone.
‘No Miss libwarian, we think you are the best libwarian ever. Why do you think we are up to something? That’s what the other librarian said when we said it to her.’

Ahh, well it was nice for a moment there. Apparently they had been following my assistant around the library as she was shelving for the past ten minutes telling her how lovely she was. Still as games go, this is the nicest I’ve seen!

It just warms the cockles of my heart…

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

At lunchtime today, I had a mass of juniors flood in. This doesn’t panic me as much as the seniors do. They are smaller, cuter and much better behaved than the seniors. A group of year 6 (ten/eleven year old) boys walked through the double doors at the library entrance, pausing at the desk and headed straight for the non-fiction bookshelves in an arrow formation. I swear I watched in open-mouthed amazement and glee. My and my assistant’s heads followed (in unison) their progress with sheer disbelief. The sound of the dambusters music here would not have gone amiss. They were looking for the answer  to the daily riddle in the bookshelves.

My work here is done. The pinnacle of librarianship has now been achieved. What can be more difficult than getting a child to use the Dewey Decimal system without being asked! – independant learning at its best. If I was only thirty years older I could retire in happiness.

Classic Collections

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. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

The problem with budgets is that they go up as well as down. This year our book budget went down considerably so I have to find ways of making it go that little bit further.

My latest find was from the book people. I managed to get 10 books for just shy of a tenner. Have a look at the BookPeople website at: http://www.thebookpeople.co.uk

These are brilliant. All our classics are looking a bit dated and as my previous blogs show the kids at my school are really picky. I hadn’t seen one ‘classic’ taken out by the younger years since I’ve been there. The sixth formers do but they have to for their A levels.

Anyway, I bought this set of books which are really colourful and a joy to look at. They fit nicely in the hand and the type face is a comfortable size to read. There was:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Flambards by K.M.Peyton
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

I had just emptied the box set into our cataloguing box yesterday (I loved the box it came in and thought I could use it for something else) when the little darlings spotted the box and asked me to get one of the books pictured on it. Well of course I went, ‘we’ve got them – that’s why the box is there.’ I am my own worst enemy sometimes. I should have said I would see thereby giveing me time to catalogue them.

Anyway they saw me glance at the box we were keeping them in and before you can say, lots of classics to read, they were rummaging in there and reading the blurbs at the back. The up shot of this little escapade was my long suffering assistant had to catalogue them all this morning in a rush. By the time I got in some of the classics were already taken out! The girl I was taking about took out Flambards. Aargh, my planned display ruined!

I’m not sure who won that one. I think I’ll call it a draw.


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.


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…