Today’s Keep It Simple Strategies (KISS) – Classroom Management for Library Media Specialists
For discussion purposes, let’s assume you are a Library Media Specialist at the Elementary level. There is so much information about organizing school libraries in ways that will make the facility fun to visit. That’s my priority as a Library Media Specialist. I really want kids to want to be there. Here are some tips on how to go about making your library a popular place!
Make it Easy to Navigate and Understand
We teach Dewey Decimal system at this level and it helps, but sometimes a shy kid will need some extra assistance. I have prepared podcasts for listening on iPods in our library. Each one walks a child through a process that may be a little complex for some. Our library is automated (it’s shocking how many school libraries in our country are not); learning to use the computer search capability is one of those tricky issues. Our system is fairly simple, there are many pictographs to help guide a child to what they are looking for. A great tip is to record the steps to looking up a subject on the computer. This way, you don’t have to repeat the instructions numerous times a day. I can broadcast the lesson for the whole class, either through headphones or aloud to all on a simple speaker system I have set up.
Our older computers at the search station are totally fine for most purposes in my small library. I’d love to have a tablet lab, and that’s the subject of the next grant I’m going to write. But, the core of my library is the automation and search capabilities that will create the foundation of a lifelong learning path for kids. I believe that libraries will never become obsolete, despite the current trend of technology. Talking to a quality Library Media Specialists or public librarians is always a learning experience and it’s part of the fun of what I do. My library is also geared to guiding children to “think college”. I work with our guidance staff to create an atmosphere that shows kids they can do anything.
Keep it Organized
Classroom tips for Library Media Specialists are actually centered on very strong organizational tools we have in place in our libraries now. The book checkout task is easy now; it’s all taken care of at the desk with barcode scanner. I’ve expanded those capabilities by bar-coding many things in our school and distributing barcode wands to key personnel who will use the system. Everything is centralized in my network server and part of the library (including inter-library loan). So don’t think of your “little library” as a standalone entity. The more you network the library with everyone in the school and district, the more essential and necessary it will be. Some candidates for barcoding include computers, equipment, and guided reading libraries in classrooms (that can be linked to reading resources in the library.) “Audio-video” resources in our school are mostly all digital now, but there are still some films and filmstrips that teachers check out on occasion. Keep them barcoded for the day when they will become antiques and trade-able for newer stuff.
Add Some Exciting Features
Work with your art teacher to make colorful drawings that point out special events in the library. Have your library become the school gallery, where all art contests and projects can be displayed and catch kids attention. This works for music performances too. If you have a string quartet, bring them for concerts to the library. In addition, vocal performances among books make a hook and a reason for the singing to happen in the library.
Professional development needs to take place in the library. Talk to your Principal about having PD consultants set up shop in a corner of the library. This will bring teachers in who may not have become acclimated to your library.
Many resources librarians on the net:
- Library Media Specialists Resource Guide
- Librarians on Pinterest
- Library Boards
- Association for School Library Media Specialists
Add your tips and suggestions to our growing lists, teachers helping teachers is a great way to go. Check out the rest of our KISS Series here.
Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.