I’m participating in the 20-day Blogging Challenge from Jennifer Brower over at Where Books and Technology Meet. She posted 20 days of blogging challenges for librarians back in January. I’m modifying and responding to one prompt each week.
Challenge: Share a library management tip. What is one thing you do that works for you? How could it be adapted by others?
I think my favorite management tip is definitely one that I stole from a friend. I’ve blogged before about my library cards for students. I use bookmarks that I purchase each year. Each set corresponds to a grade level and each pattern to a classroom. On the back is a label identifying the grade level and teacher name and a label with the student name and barcode for the circulation system.
Early in the spring when I am placing my final supply order for the year I take inventory of the bookmark sets that I have and place my order for the next year. Some years I need five in a set and some years I need four in a set. I try to keep a few backup sets in case grade level sizes change over the summer.
In the middle of summer I take my box of bookmarks home and start printing labels. As soon as teachers are fairly solidified I print one page of labels with each teacher name. I spend some quality TV time and stick those babies down.
That’s it until the first week of school. As the circulation system is loaded with kids I print out a class of labels at a time. Each with the student name and their barcode. These get stuck onto the bookmarks at the last minute before their first checkout. I do cover the barcodes with a cheap clear label protector (I buy cheap and a slightly smaller size than I use for books). It helps keep the barcode from getting smudged. When the class comes in for their first checkout I ask K-2 teachers to write first names/nicknames right by the barcode. If they write on the label protector it’s a bonus because there are usually a few students who move and I can reuse their bookmarks. Students who are in special education classes and are in an inclusion program get two library cards: one for their homeroom and one for their inclusion class. Usually mine are checking out books with their inclusion class, but I usually get their homeroom card made first before I know which class they are going to be pushing into regularly.
The chart here is a Flashcard Pocket Charts. Love them! I have two. One is for K-2 and the other for 3-5. I have them hung in two different locations on smidges of wall space I could wrangle. When I put them up I popped up some command hooks and they are still there after two years. I take the pocket charts down in the summer so they’ll be out of the way of our cleaning teams. The hooks remain and make it easy to get started in the fall.
At our circulation stations I keep a small bucket for the library cards. Students put them there when they are done checking out the books. A few times a day our library assistant or I will take them out, count them, and file them back into the pockets for the students. It has been a great tool for data collection. It’s not data that shows student learning, but it’s useful for us to know how many patrons are checking out books each day. It’s a number I can’t get from my circulation software.
In my office along our back work counter I have seven book pockets stuck on a strip of posterboard and stuck up on the wall. This is where I keep the extra bookmarks for each grade level and SpEd. When we get new students it’s easy to get a bookmark that has the teacher name already on it. I also throw cards from any student who has moved into these pockets. I recycle these for new students if possible.
Students know where their library cards are kept and go to their pockets to locate their class set. The first student to the pocket will usually take out the stack and spread them out on a table. It works really well for both whole classes and small groups checking out books. The kids can see all of the names and can easily pick theirs up. After the class is done or the small groups start to slow down we’ll scoop up the leftovers and put them back into the right pockets. It’s routine to see two or three tables covered with library cards from different classes. It doesn’t bother me in the least!
I can’t tell you how much I love my bookmark library cards! I know there are probably some budgets that wouldn’t be able to afford even these supplies. I would suggest posterboard cut for each grade level and then a different sticker placed at one end for each classroom to differentiate. I’ve seen ones before when students got to decorate their own, but the fact that all of the patterns match from a class makes sorting swift. We can have the cards counted and returned to their pockets in less than two minutes.