Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Good Day at Work

Today three classes of 7th graders came to the library. I gave a short PowerPoint lesson explaining how the musical Wicked, which they had gone up to NYC to see last week, was derived from Gregory Maguire's 1995 book Wicked: the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West. And how Maquire's book was a parallel novel to L. Frank Baum's 1902 book The Wizard of Oz, focusing not on Dorothy's story but on the story of the two witches who Dorothy meets.

Did you know that the Maguire created the name of the wicked witch, Elphaba, from Baum's initials? L-F-B. Pretty clever.

The students had enjoyed seeing Wicked and seemed very interested in this little literary history. A few were quite disappointed to learn that Wicked is definitely an adult book (for violence, language, and sex) and that I wasn't planning to add it to the library collections!

After this short lesson we had browsing time, during which the kids found material to take home or browsed through what was out on display. My aide was away, so I carried around a list of students on a clipboard and wrote down the barcode numbers of the items they were checking out next to their names. With this system I can be up and walking around talking with the kids about books while I'm checking them out, instead of tied to the circulation desk. I love talking with them and helping them find the next good book to read. Here's a couple of the questions I got from them today:

Do you know any book that has stories set in Russia?

Do you have a book as good as Do You Know the Monkey Man?

I'd like a mystery that's also really funny.

Is this book too old for me?

As they checked out Not-for-Parents; Paris; Everything you Ever Wanted to Know, one of the new travel guides published by Lonely Planet, a child told me she had heard from a friend that the guides were really good. That made me feel great, since I personally select all the books for purchase, rather than rely on a service. Someone finally checked out a new skateboarding field guide that I had bought; it's been sitting on the new book shelf for two weeks! Go figure.

The last five minutes of library time is spent in silent reading, something I came up with last year as a way to encourage actual reading and also give me (and everyone else) five quiet minutes at the end of each class. It's the best idea I've had, and today I even got to read with the kids during the silent reading time. (I'm reading Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser.)

I got ready for the 8th grade classes which are coming in tomorrow. The 8th grade LA teacher and I had agreed that I would showcase the library's holding related to Shakespeare, not only by him and about him, but also fictional works that involve him in one way or the other (such as Wednesday's Wars by Gary Schmidt). I had some trouble figuring out an interesting way to present this info, and finally decided to booktalk some of the nonfiction works and show some online book trailers made by other Junior High students for the few fictional works in our collection. I think the kids will like this, since they are making videos and podcasts in their technology classes.

In between doing classes and getting ready for classes, I continued experimenting with using Shelfari and LibraryThing to post book lists on the Library section of the school web site. I decided to buy a school-wide subscription to the Enchanted Learning website and sent out a notice announcing the purchase and reminding teachers about the other online subscriptions we have. I made arrangements to have the camcorder and tripod brought over from our Lower School campus so I can video the debating club's big debate next Tuesday. I added the Newberry Award winner and Honor winner to book order I'm working up to submit the end of the month. I looked up reviews for several books that one of my voracious readers asked me buy and added them to the pending order. Over a quick lunch I chatted with the 7th/8th grade Science teacher about what she was teaching through the end of the year. Our higher level science collection needs boosting, so I was glad to get a better idea of what she's covering. I tracked down a set of speakers I had lent out for a chapel presentation last week. The facilities manager called me about meeting with the school's carpenter, moving another step forward towards having new bookcases installed early this summer. I checked in lots of books, talked to kids who had long-overdue books about finding them or paying for them so their accounts were straight, and cataloged and labeled a new magazine. I advised a colleague about an email she was sending to a parent. I did some troubleshooting related to our online catalog so the librarian at the Lower School could have administrative access again (it had mysteriously disappeared).

All in all, it was a very satisfying day!

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