The dreaded word “Inventory” rears its ugly head and nags us as we look for that elusive book or that missing artifact. This is a great question, and one which deserves a straightforward answer. When a student, teacher, parent or community member searches for a book or other resources in your library, the search should be accurate and point them directly to the resource. By conducting a thorough inventory at least every other year, you are ensuring this accuracy.
Inventory can be done at any time. Modern automation systems can detect when a book is checked out, and automatically inventory it when it is checked in again. You can work anytime on an inventory; whenever you have time and your volunteers can help or take charge! Inventory small sections of your collection at a time, while your library remains open and the collection is used.
Some inventory tips include:
- Have your volunteers carry some cleaning supplies, as often shelves that are dusty can be wiped down during the process. Those hidden bags of Cheetos and candy wrappers can also be discarded!
- If you are in an elementary school, and your parent volunteers are already stretched thin, then ask the high school or middle school to find students who may need community service or volunteer hours.
- Check your inventory reports carefully. You will find inconsistencies in barcode designations ( F, Fic and/or FIC is a common one) and this can be corrected after you have inventoried by batch printing barcode labels and having your volunteers apply them as needed.
- Scan everything. Books, DVDs, special collections, the professional collection’ in short anything with a barcode should be scanned.
- When you are finished, remember to print the “items not found” list and check your shelves first before deleting those books/resources. It may be that the scanner missed the item.
Good luck! Completing an inventory is like cleaning house: a dreadful chore that feels good when completed and makes for smooth sailing (for awhile, at least).
Do you have any tips for teaching kindergartners? Sometimes it feels like babysitting, but I want them to acquire age-appropriate library skills.
In order to effectively work with kindergarteners I found it important to understand where they are coming from. One of the best ways to do this is to collaborate with each classroom teacher not only to learn how you can integrate into their curriculum but also to identify children that may have special needs, those who can benefit from special seating, closer attention and extra encouragement. As a certified teacher you should take the time to read IEPs or documentation that will help you relate and communicate with these children. It is worthwhile to get right down to their level, build trust and understanding of why it is important to have good library manners so "everyone" can have fun. The relationships you build at this age will last for years and they will look forward to coming to the library well into the future. For many older kids the library is a space where they feel safe, look forward to coming because it makes them feel good, building self esteem, and it is much easier to handle difficult situations as they arise. There is a feeling of mutual trust.
Once relationships are established (and it will include gentle reminders from time to time) it becomes easier to introduce and model library manners and library skills. Perhaps start off with a question for them to think about, make a list of what they know about libraries, another list of what they want to know or learn. Guide them with ideas like “How do you think I know where to put the books?” “How many books do you think we own?” “How can I remember where to find them all for you?” “How can you help me?” This opens the door to discuss the importance of rules, being patient and respectful. Create a roadmap of what you/they want to accomplish and establish the guidelines of how "everyone" can have fun while getting there. Always keep in mind their attention spans, and start or wrap up with a great story or hands on activity during book selection time. The biggest challenge I found came when kids this age were pigeonholed into a fixed time block that was too long for them, thus not developmentally appropriate. If this is the case, keep notes and records that might help you advocate for a change in the future. Document your successes so you remember the things that worked well for you.
Most important of all is to develop a love of reading and build experiences that make them want to come back each week to get more books. The energy you expend with little ones can be tiring but it is never wasted when they know the library is the best place to be, the heart of the school. Good luck. -Response courtesy of Sandy Kelly
HELP!! I have been asked to not just teach library at our elementary school, but to also take over as the tech integration specialist. I am looking for ways to enhance and integrate both. Any suggestions, web sites, ideas will be greatly appreciated!!
School librarians integrate technology every day as they manage and teach in school libraries. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has standards for teaching and using technology with students. There is much overlap between those standards and the standards for school librarians published by the American Association of School Librarians as well as the Massachusetts School Library Standards found on the standards page on the MSLA website.
I would love for this question to be on the listserv, where those actually doing this dual-job can contribute. Working with classroom teachers and integrating technology is what school librarians do. My simple answer would be to take what you are already doing in the library and expand that into the computer lab. Teach digital citizenship, communication skills, and collaborative experiences while using library projects as the basis. While not simple, it can be done and the teachable moments you build can be the basis for forging a path forward.
The websites below are helpful for additional resources. There are many to choose from and it is almost impossible to list all available resources. Here is where others can contribute.
Best Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning
Does the MA DESE require that librarians and technology teachers have a license? If so, why do so many school districts not require this and what can be done about it at a district/school level and with DESE?
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does require certification for all school librarians and technology teachers. Our very own MSLA has a web page with all of the pertinent links at https://www.maschoolibraries.org/certification--licensure.html
Does this mean that all school districts hire professionally certified school librarians? Sadly, no. There are many school districts who hire paraprofessionals to run their school libraries. In Massachusetts, the accrediting agency NEASC has some influence on high schools to employ certified professional school librarians, but even NEASC has lost ground in this fight. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has no staffing requirements for school libraries. School librarians have no representation at the state level (no state supervisor of school libraries) to advocate for professional staffing at all levels.
In some instances, school districts will hire someone for the position of school librarian who is working toward an initial license, or is moving from provisional to an initial license. Once a candidate obtains an initial license, the professional license is conferred with three years of experience. A candidate for the initial license (holding a provisional license) is eligible to receive a waiver from the DESE for two years, and can therefore be employed and paid as a school librarian with an initial license during that time.
Often, school districts employ paraprofessionals, and those employees are called the school librarian or technology specialist. The remuneration for such positions is on par with other paraprofessionals in the district, while many of these employees are asked to “teach” classes while relieving teachers for contract-driven prep periods. I will go out on a limb here and say that this practice is a disservice to all. But without an advocate at the state level, there is no requirement for districts to place certified school librarians in every school. Many schools share professional staff, with one school librarian running between two to four schools or more.