Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekly Displays: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Announcement in this week's bulletin:  "Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss.  We love you even though we're in high school.  In fact, it is only now that we are older that we can fully appreciate your sophisticated social and political agenda, as evidenced by the awesome Dr. Seuss Geussing Game now in the library.  And there's a PRIZE!"

The misspelling is intentional.  :)

We have a handful of Dr. Seuss books in the Upper School collection, and we borrowed many more from the Lower Schools to fill out the window display.  Our Dr. Seuss Geussing Game was inspired by a post on Buzzfeed about reinterpreted Dr. Seuss book covers.  If our students can name the original book titles (bonus points for NOT peeking at the very-close-by display), they'll win a copy of The Lorax or The Sneetches.  

Lizz found lots of fun Seuss decorations at a party store and our fellow librarians at the Lower School also contributed a Cat in the Hat, so the window display is quite snazzy.

P.S.  I know I've done a lot of birthday displays, but what can I say--I love birthdays and even dead people deserve a good party.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Midwinter Mysteries

Last year, Lizz made a "murdered snowman" out of construction paper for a Midwinter Mysteries display.  It's so cool that we're doing it all over again this year--with, of course, a couple new twists.

I made a "newspaper" to advertise the Midwinter Mysteries display--it ties in with the snowman theme and will be both taped to walls and set out for students to grab as they pass by.  And, it's silly.

When Lizz and I sat down a couple weeks ago to plan Midwinter Mysteries, our idea of having a Clue board game tournament morphed into the creation of a special Blake edition of the game of Clue.  The victim is the school mascot, Cyrus Bear.  Teacher become "Suspects" (PhotoShopped into the guises of Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard and the rest).  "Weapons" become school equipment like a Bunsen burner, a textbook, and a hole punch.  I took photos of rooms around the school, printed those photos, and taped them to an old Clue board ($2.99 at the local thrift store) so when you play, you really can roll the dice, move your pawn, and guess "Mrs. Peacock, with the MacBook, in the Library" (of course the library is a crime scene!).  I had great fun making it; hopefully the kids will get a kick out of it too.

This week's window display ties in to the mystery theme, too--we're featuring superheroes and comic book crime fighters.  Most of the books are graphic novels or comics collections (Batman, The Watchmen, Hellboy, the hilarious anti-superhero The Helm by Jim Hardison, etc.) but we found some interesting novels on our shelves too--Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, with its Comics Golden Age setting and plot; the quirky coming-of-age story The Adventures of the Blue Avenger by Norma Howe; a little gem called Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask by Jim Munroe.  I'm hoping this display will circulate a bit more than others.  'Cause kids like superheroes, right?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Your Library

February is the month most choose to publicly declare their love.  Younger kids decorate shoe boxes and give tokens of love to all their classmates. Adults go to White Castle for a romantic case of sliders.  Our goal: Make the library the school's valentine.  That may be lofty, but a girl needs to have dreams.  

The library's plan for wooing the school:
1. Make adorable signs and hang them up around the school
Kali is a wizard with Photoshop.  Within minutes of deciding what our course of action will be for library promotion, she will create multiple signs that are enticing and clever.  
2. Find a way to give prizes
Who doesn’t love the chance to attain fame by winning?  This time students and faculty have been invited to take a love quiz about books through signs and announcements.  The eighteen questions range from the classics to comics, and has managed to stump all. Feel free to try the quiz for yourself! High scores will earn them a book  Six that are suggested:

3. Display the kid’s favorite romance books
The Reading Club took a few minutes to select all of their favorite romance books.  These forty books create quite the comical look at love.
4. Arts and crafts from weeded books
Using discarded books, glitter glue, construction paper, and a few more art supplies create a Valentine for a favorite teacher or friend. 

 Who can resist returning to their elementary school roots on this great holiday?

Weekly Displays: Happy Birthday Chuck and Chuck

We have two display areas in the library:  one is a low bank of shelves in the middle of the library which can hold about 40 books.  The other is a window with glass shelves that looks into the hallway; it can hold about 15 books.  Neither is ideal for showcasing selections from the collection, but we make do.  We try to change the shelf display every two or three weeks and the window display every week.

The window display.
The central shelves that we use for display.

February 7th marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s birth.  February 12th was Charles Darwin’s 203rd birthday.  We celebrated Dickens in our window display last week; this week Darwin gets his turn in the spotlight.

Dickens is going to party like it's his birthday.

Dickens' friends and their books wish him a happy birthday.
Our Charles Darwin birthday display.
We're pretty excited about the length of Darwin's beard on the cover of the middle book.
Happy Birthday, Darwin!  I PhotoShopped this for you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Weeding the reference collection.

Our collection hasn’t been weeded in about a decade—yikes. Previous librarians ordered fiction through a subscription service rather than selecting books themselves, which means we’ve found some real gems. There’s nothing like sci-fi from the ‘70s and murder mysteries about old ladies who knit to get today’s teens reading! One of our main goals for the next few years is to increase the circulation of the fiction collection. We want to be a major source of recreational reading for our students. Buying new fiction is a big part of this, but so is weeding out the books that no longer have any appeal. Still, there’s a few we can’t help keeping just because we get a kick out of them—how could we not love Women of Wonder: Science Fiction Stories By Women About Women, Edited, with an Introduction and Notes (1974)?

Our criteria for weeding is based on circulation stats, publication dates, and quality of content. We’ve spent the first half of the school year working our way through the 500s, 600s, 700s, 800s, the fiction collection, and the reference collection. Most of the books we’ve weeded are simply too old and out-of-date to be useful anymore. There’s also a fair amount of duplication—we don’t need seven encyclopedias about reptiles of North America. Other “surprises” have included a wealth of literary criticism (which not only don't match the curriculum, but we think our students are capable of analyzing literature without too much help), a slew of Eyewitness Books from DK Publishing (which are not only out-of-date but are more suitable for an elementary audience), and a handful of misfits that sent us into fits of giggles when we found them.

Our favorite outdated fiction.

Just a few of the dozens of DK Eyewitness Books hiding in our library.

Selecting weeded books to donate.
We’ve been able to fill important gaps in the collection as we’ve weeded—we realized the other day, as we began to tackle the biographies, that we only had one very short book about Muhammad Ali, and not a thing on Dred Scott. Our discarded books, too, have gone to good causes. A small local public library was dropped, due to budget cuts, by the county system that supported it. The town elected to keep its library open regardless, but needed to replace the books that belonged to the county. About half of the 1350 books we’ve weeded found new a home.

Weeding is a never-ending responsibility, but there’s no better way for new librarians to become familiar with the collection.  And whenever we have a stressful day, there's no better way to relax than to laugh over a few shelves of old, oddball books.

This one made us laugh the most...