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Collection Analysis Question 
7th-Aug-2008 06:22 pm
Here is my situation. First year teacher and school librarian. I will have two elementary schools and I finally got to meet with one principal today and see the library. It's a nice big, attractive space (lots of windows, cool atrium ceiling. Here's the problem. The former librarian was horrible and basically just did what she could to get by (principal's words). The teachers were at the point where they didn't want to collaborate with her anymore or bring her kids into the library. The library itself is so uninviting, very outdated posters etc. Looks like it hasn't been weeded, ever. I asked about a collection analysis but I don't think that has ever been done. Oh yeah, I basically have no budget either since the principal was so displeased with the library program (I think my other boss, head of technology may give me some of his budget to help with this).

Oh, and it's flexible scheduling which is great. I didn't think it was. So now I have to bring these teachers back! And get them excited about the library etc. I guess it's good because I can only do a better job than she did, and the teachers will be happy to have someone new in there.

The first goal is to get the space rearranged, dusted/cleaned, weeded, and overall look more inviting. It's a huge ordeal I think. The lady didn't even clean out her desk, it's all her old stuff and papers in there (who does that?).

So I'm thinking I should do a collection analysis. Here's the problem though. I don't think they have a portable scanner. Has anyone done one without one? I don't actually know how to do one, my internship supervisor didn't have time to show me. I take it you scan in every single book in the library? It sounds difficult without a wireless scanner. Should I wait to do this later? But I'm going to be weeding out some books so now is the ideal time. The other issue though is that I probably wont have a login to the cataloging system until school starts. I guess I could weed and just keep the books separate and not delete them out until I do the collection analysis. Maybe I shouldn't even worry about one this year since I have little to no budget. It's not like I'll be able to improve the age of the collection all that significantly.

Any thoughts on this? Or tips on my situation in general? I haven't seen the other library and the same retired librarian had that school too so I'm sure the other library will need a lot of work also. I'm really feeling overwhelmed. The principal seems like he will be supportive though and I don't think I will have to collaborate with teachers w/in the first two weeks if we are getting the library ready (kids could check out books though).

Also, anyone on here with elementary schools and flexible scheduling?
8th-Aug-2008 12:13 am (UTC)
I stepped into a situation just like yours except my hours are not flex. I have scheduled classes and I'm the school tech so I work on computer problems when I don't have kids.

Spend the first half getting organized. Your office and work area sound like they're a mess of old papers and things the other librarian left. I spent every spare minute (and you won't have many) with a big Rubbermaid rolling trash cart as my constant companion. Get rid of those old papers, the flat file of old magazine clippings, cull your periodicals (I give those to the teachers first, then offer them to the kids), sort through your storage areas for those old vinyl records and film strips. If you've got two libraries you've got your hands full. Don't start weeding right away because when you do it will become addictive. My first year I threw out over 1,000 books. Plan to work on that after Christmas break. This will give you time to learn your collection before you pitch.

Just culling out old stuff will make it more inviting. Get rid of those posters and old dust collectors and ask for some money for new bulletin board materials and posters. Don't be afraid to ask for money if there's any at all there - your new principal will be so happy to have someone who cares that they'll usually find some. If you have a parent organization see if they'll host a bookfair for you. That should bring in some cash that you can spend for everyday items.

Check your library software. A lot of it has a component that will do a collection analysis for you. You may have to call your tech support to find out how to get this done. Since you're going to be so overwhelmed with other stuff, just do a walk thru. Scan your shelves. Look at your major categories. For non-fiction in an elementary school you want to have as many books as possible on insects, sharks, mammals, reptiles, and dinosaurs. The newer the better. Then look at your biographies. Do you have some that were purchased since 1965? If so, consider yourself lucky. Just by walking thru you will see what you need, also your students will start demanding titles when they check out - keep a running list of those for when you start ordering.

Spend some time making rules and procedures and then teach them to the kids. If you start out right you will have fewer problems later. Shelf markers will save you hours of shelving. Even kindergarten can be taught to use them if you demonstrate them. I don't let kindergarten go to the shelves at the beginning of the year. First I put out bins on books that I've picked out for them on the tables. If you have any board books those are good too. This is the time to talk about how to turn the pages, the parts of the book, and how every book has to be in the bin before they line up. I let mine choose a partner and read under the tables and on any furniture I have. Make the library fun!

Ask the kindergarten assistant to come with them the first few times to make sure you have some support in case one has to go the bathroom or has an accident. Every year I learn that trying to corral kindergarteners in the library is like trying to herd cats. You get three where you want them and the rest scatter.

I bought these colored square mats that have interlocking edges. I have a place in the corner of my library where I keep these. One of the first things we learn is how to use the mats. You put the kids on them and ask them to sit in the middle. Hands and feet must be contained within their square. This keeps the poking and touching to a miniumum. Just tell them that this is their space. They have to sit in story-style with their legs crossed so the people behind them can see. This works like a charm. You can also assign squares if you have discipline problems. Plus, they're good for transitioning kids because you can say "If you're on a red square would you please line up." You're controlling their movements and reinforcing their colors at the same time.

Good luck! I could talk all day but you're going to have so much fun at this job after you get the big stuff out of the way!

8th-Aug-2008 11:29 am (UTC)
Thanks! This is all good advice. The teachers actually are required to stay with their classes, so that is good news to me. And the PTA does do bookfairs but it's for their profit, not the library. Strange to me.

Where did you get your mats?
9th-Aug-2008 03:27 am (UTC)
I actually got mine at Sam's Club but I've seen them at Lowe's in the flooring section.
10th-Aug-2008 08:40 pm (UTC) - Collection Analysis
If your collection is automated (has barcodes) Follett will do this for you. Even if they're not your vendor pretend you're interested in them as one. Just call them (web page at titlewave.com) and find their number. Call and ask to speak with your sales rep (it's done by location) and they may just transfer you to voicemail. Explain your situation, new librarian. Getting budget information from the district, but before you place any orders you need to submit your collection for analysis.

Your sales rep will visit your library(ies) and help you electronically submit your collection and even go over the results with you. If you make a titlewave account you can even view the results from home whenever you need them.
11th-Aug-2008 04:00 pm (UTC) - Re: Collection Analysis
Actually Follett is a very good vendor. My main source is Bound to Stay Bound but Follett is a close second. I love their covers - they're very colorful and bright but their spines are so narrow it's hard to read the spine labels.

If you do call your Follett rep ask for their posters. They have fantabulous posters of Newbery, Caldecott, & Coretta Scott King Award winners and they're free. They're great to post around the library especially if you do a unit on award books. My fifth grade language arts teachers always asks for the old ones to post in her room.
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