I got a wild idea today.
I should post a picture, but I didn’t take one. Picture the “Weird Books” box on steroids. It’s bad. Really bad. I have two laundry baskets in the library for books to be returned to our Book Room. (And pardon me for telling stories in circles.) The Book Room has at least 7000 books in barcoded sets, arranged by reading level, and organized into dishpan tubs, that teachers can check out for reading groups. Each set has one barcode so that the teacher just needs to scan the book on top and go.
Problems have arisen. I have realized the error of my ways. Well, the errors of my ways are piled in and overflowing the two laundry baskets. One basket is labeled “complete sets” and the other “sets missing copies.” I have tried to add a Copy Note in Destiny to the sets that are returned with missing copies. I want teachers to return the books even if the set is not complete, but I don’t want the teacher who checks the set out next to forget that there was a copy missing and think that she’s the one who lost the book. So the basket of sets with missing copies is…well, I can’t even see the basket anymore. It’s that bad.
And I think I know how to fix it. But, 7000 books. At least!
The summer we organized and barcoded the books in the first place there were 3-4 of us lugging home tubs of books every week. We had a system. Two teachers were great at leveling the books that weren’t leveled, and I can barcode like a machine. And I can watch TV. Those two tasks go together really well.
But it’s not summer. And my plans are a bit up in the air right now. I’m trying to organize as much as I can so that when fall comes, myself or another librarian, can step into organizational heaven and not crazy chaos.
Back to the email: I sent an email today to two of the teachers who worked on this project a few years ago and invested their sweat and paper cuts. They also understand my brain. I explained that I wanted to do it RIGHT NOW (because that’s how I like to jump into things). But I took a minute to outline the pros and the cons of the current system and of the proposed solution. The cons to the solution are mostly time, time, and more time to go back and barcode all the books individually instead of as a set.
I really thought they would talk me down. They know what’s going on personally. They know how much time the project will take. They know that I seriously want to do it RIGHT NOW. And I thought they would be calm and rational and say “Great idea, but you’re crazy to want to do this now. You need to not take this on.”
I need people who will talk me down. These are the people.
They are also the people who understand the issue, the time it would take, and the need to tackle this project RIGHT NOW. So we’re going for it!
I went to Sam’s and bought the address labels and the tape. This will take gobs of tape and I’m a tape snob. Good tape is worth every penny. Tomorrow I’ll print barcodes and I will type the email that will outline The Plan. We’re going to kick off before spring break with an after school party and orientation for anyone who wants to help. Volunteers will lug home tubs, slap on barcoded labels, slap on tape and lug the tubs back to school. I have one other teacher in mind to catalog the books. We’ll lug the tubs that have new barcodes home, duplicate copies and type in new barcode numbers. I may even bring my scanner home so that I don’t have to type. If the records weren’t already in the system, it would be worse. Not impossible, but still a bit time consuming. I’m sure we can pull it off within a few weeks. (Which is code for “by the end of the school year.”)
So in this case, I wasn’t talked down, but that’s okay. I have colleagues I can go to with those crazy ideas and they can get past my emotion and really think about the issue. I am blessed to work with people who are willing to take risks. This project is time consuming. It’s teacher initiated. It was teacher initiated when we did it four years ago. No one is making us. We don’t get continuing education credit. We don’t get paid extra. And I won’t be reimbursed for buying labels and good tape. I don’t care. It’s all worth it if we get the outcome we anticipate. I love working with people who understand me and are willing to take on projects that require the extra time. Love it!