Friday, October 26, 2012

School Starts with a New Look

Books are circulating. Students are running around carrying laptops and huge athletic bags.  Sure signs that the school year is under way--in fact, the first quarter is almost over already! The library got a bit of a reorganization over the summer, and it has been received well.  Students now have ample room to spread out and work.  It is stunning how uncluttered a space can feel with just a few shelves shuffled and removed.

The view from the front of the library to the back.  The big difference from last year:  tables have been reoriented and our central unit of shelves has been removed.  The space is feels bigger, airier, and more unified.

The stacks:  all the books are on the same side of the library now, with two short shelving units replacing three tall ones that we passed on to teachers over the summer.  We have a clearer line of sight to this side of the library now, and the short shelves serve as our new book display space.

This rear area of the library was cleared of all its shelves, including the large unit built against the back wall.  Tables were moved into this space to create a "classroom."  It's a bit separated from the rest of the library, and we can project against the white wall, making it easier to give instruction to visiting classes.    

How did we do it?
  1. Combine little collections: Yes, it makes sense for many institutions to have a professional collection and an oversized collection and loads of other collections.  But the statistics show that this model does not work for the students here.  Rather than getting rid of all these resources we just changed things up a bit.  Now the non-fiction collection is home to reference, oversized books, and all of the other smaller collections.  In time this will show if the materials were not being used because they couldn't be found or because they do not match the needs of the curriculum. 
  2. Give prominent space to things we want students to find: The last three summers the fiction has moved.  From the shelves below windows where students were forced to pitifully crawl and search for the perfect novel, they originally moved on to a real wall with room to grow. But this year, fiction has been honored with the best wall in the library.  With the reference not needing space, the fiction collection now is right next to the reference desk.
  3. Take the advise that your boss gives you: Right before school started the director of the school requested that we move a shelf that has been in the middle of the library forever.  For classes it provides a physical division of space.  The plan was to move it for workshops, then have it back before school starts.  That was until it was moved.  Suddenly the library felt twice as big, and a teacher took the huge shelf to his room the day before school started.  A win for all.  
Almost a full quarter into the school year, students are still trying to figure out how the library got bigger over the summer, and the librarians are so happy with how the space flows and is being used.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harry Potter Revival Week

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in 1997, a whole year before most of our current class of freshmen were born.  Our students have therefore lived most of, if not all of, their lives surrounded by the  Harry Potter phenomenon, and so they are born fans of the boy wizard.  And now that J.K. Rowling has a brand new non-HP book out, we figured it was an ideal time for a Harry Potter Revival Week.  

Along with signs and posters, we made a video using the website (robot-like animated versions of Napoleon and Queen Elizabeth debate the finer points of a Harry Potter book vs. a non-Harry Potter book) to promote our HP Week and its various activities:

Monday's tutorial featured Harry Potter Jeopardy using a site we found online and our new Eggspert device.

HP Jeopardy participants examines their prizes of Bertie Bott's All-Flavor Beans
(actual flavors include grass, earthworm, dirt, vomit, earwax, and boogie). 
Our Harry Potter Jeopardy winner brandishes her new pen-wand.

On Tuesday, Lizz brought in a lovely little golden snitch that she had made which we hid for a "seek the snitch" challenge.  It took interested students two whole days to find it; now it hangs from the ceiling in the library to enchant anyone wise enough to look up.

The dedicated students who hunted down the hidden golden snitch.
Their rewards were Hogwarts House bookmarks.
Wednesday's tutorial was devoted to our Hogwarts classes program.  We recruited several teachers to play Hogwarts professors and instruct students in Divination (tea leaf reading using astrology charts), Care of Magical Creatures (looking at the Greco-Roman origins of the mythical creatures in the HP books and debating which creature would win in an imaginary battle), Charms (translating Latin-based spells), and Potions (chemistry).  We also had a Sorting Hat, selections from the Hogwarts library, and a Bertie Bott's All-Flavor Bean tasting station.

A new Hogwarts student is thrilled to be sorted into Gryffindor. 
Hogwarts House buttons, generously provided by a new teacher who held a
 Harry Potter fundraiser event at her previous school.
Two student prepare to duel with wands and Latin-based spells.
A Divination student tries on Professor Trewlaney's glasses during tea leaf reading.
Which would win in a hypothetical battle:  chimera or sphinx?
Downstairs in the Potions classroom, colorful fires burn.

The Hogwarts library includes the Marauder's Map, catalogs from Borgin & Burkes and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, Harry's acceptance letter from Hogwarts, and the program from the Quidditch World Cup--all contributed by the same wonderful teacher who brought the Hogwarts House buttons!
Thursday was the last day to take our Harry Potter O.W.L. exam (pen wands were awarded to those who received a grade of "Outstanding"), and Friday we promoted Harry Potter read-alikes such as Lev Grossman's The Magicians which features a fantastic "Harry Potter goes to college, parties like a rock star, and discovers Narnia" storyline.  All in all, Harry Potter Revival Week was a magical success (Get it?  Magical?  Hee hee).

A few days later, we received our two new copies of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy; they were checked out almost as soon as they were cataloged.  We're very eager to hear what Harry Potter fans think of this completely Muggle-oriented new book!

Wands and beans--our Harry Potter shopping list