Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Library Club Bookstore Crawl

(This is a catch-up post.  The now-in-progress renovation and related construction kept us too busy to post events as they came and went.  We'll try to make up for it and post regularly throughout the rest of the school year.) 

This year, our Reading Club has morphed into the Library Club--their aims and goals are not different (they still want to talk talk talk about books), but the location where they hang out--the library tech center--is now much more central to their club identity.  They decorated their space with artwork and they even made a blanket to keep cozy.  It didn't last, because of the renovation, but they enjoyed having a space of their own and we enjoyed overhearing their conversations (their heated debate about the best hideouts during a zombie apocalypse was a highlight).

The Library Club was very active this year.  They co-wrote a novel during November's National Novel Writing Month (it was a complex fantasy/sci fi tale told from multiple points of view, still in progress), created a "Blind Date with a Book" display for Valentine's Day (covering the titles of books with decorated paper), met with visiting author Jennifer Miller (Year of the Gadfly), and planned a Bookstore Crawl.  The Bookstore Crawl was the highlight of our year.  We visited three independent Uptown Minneapolis bookstores (Magers & Quinn, Booksmart, Once Upon a Crime), independent record store Treehouse Records, went out for lunch, and used public transportation to get around.

The Library Club browses the upstairs rare book section at Magers & Quinn.
The Library Club (ok, sometimes they're still the Reading Club) signs a bookstore
guest book with their signature philosophical cow cartoon. 

For a few of our students, taking the bus was their first time
 using public transportation in Minneapolis

The kids had so much fun (and spent so much time at each bookstore--this turned into an all-day excursion) that we have every intention of making the Bookstore Crawl an annual or even biannual Library Club event. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Minnesota Historical Society

(This is a catch-up post.  The now-in-progress renovation and related construction kept us too busy to post events as they came and went.  We'll try to make up for it and post regularly throughout the rest of the school year.) 

One of the highlights of this year was our first quarter field trip to the Minnesota Historical Society with three sections of sophomore U.S. History classes.  The goal was to help the students do archival research on a local topic of their choice so they could physically interact with their primary sources.

Inspired by the Historical Society's US-Dakota War exhibit honoring the 150th anniversary of the war, one of our Social Studies teachers assigned her classes a local history project.  The classes came into the library for a tutorial on searching the museum's online archives to request the materials they wanted before the field trip; topics ranged from Sister Kenny to Eugene McCarthy to gangsters to Vietnam War veteran art therapy.  The librarians at the Historical Society's archives were extremely helpful in organizing this field trip and making sure there was a a box of primary sources waiting for every student.

A student pours over newspaper clippings about gangsters in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We provided document cameras so students could record sources for later study.

A few students were even brave enough to try the microfiche machines.

They also, of course, got to explore the museum's exhibits and generally pretend to be gleeful little kids again instead of surly, too-cool teenagers.

Students pretend to be farmers plowing fields...
...and coal miners down in the mines.
Students document references in the US-Dakota War exhibit.

After the field trip, we conducted a survey of the students to gauge their experience with archives and primary sources.


Click here to see the data in more detail.

Student papers were vastly superior to previous years, and the students showed a real and lasting interest in their topic over the course of their research and throughout the writing process.  Physically handling their primary sources, seeing original documents in real life and working directly from the sources made a big difference for most students.  Hopefully, the success of this field trip means we can do this every year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Make Reading a Hobbit

(This is a catch-up post.  The now-in-progress renovation and related construction kept us too busy to post events as they came and went.  We'll try to make up for it and post regularly throughout the rest of the school year.)

For our winter break program, we capitalized on the new movie adaptation of The Hobbit and went all-out Tolkien.  With renovation deadlines looming, The Hobbit wasn't quite as extensive a program as The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, nor is The Hobbit as popular as those more modern adventures, but we had an extremely clever tag (we thought) line for this program:  Make Reading A Hobbit!  We also appear to have an H-theme going on, so bully for us!

Our Hobbit program contained the same sort of passive program that's been so far successful for us--quizzes, trivia, coloring contests (using J.R.R. Tolkien's original illustrations as inspiration), and drawings.  We had, as always, great fun buying prizes thanks to the plethora of Hobbit merchandise available for sale.  We also utilized our whiteboard for some Hobbit fun:  "What's your worst hobbit?" (we love puns) and a Gollum-drawing contest.

Gollum drawing winner (we were really impressed)

Tuesday's tutorial featured a riddle contest, using the famous riddles from Bilbo Baggins' show-down with Gollum as well as a few old chestnuts gathered online.  There was a small turnout for the riddle contest (mostly our Library Club members) but that allowed us to really let the students take their time in thinking out the answers to the riddles (they are clearly not used to thinking so literally!) and then to shower prizes upon them.

Yes, that is Elvish on the whiteboard behind our Riddle Contest winners.

Thursday's tutorial featured a "Second Breakfast" (with starving students hovering impatiently around us while we laid out baked goods and little oranges) and a showing of the 1980s animated Hobbit.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Where's the Library?

Wow, we haven't posted anything since October!  That just goes to show how busy we've been this year.  Our library is undergoing a major renovation and the entire school year up until now has been dedicated to preparing for construction.  We've had countless meetings about shelving, about what the new reference desk is going to look like, about how the new media classroom will be used, about how we want the cabinets in our new offices to look.  We've debated endlessly the best way to pack 10,000 books into boxes, and where to store them for the summer, and how to arrange them when they're unpacked again.  When the construction deadline was moved up from the end of the school year to spring break, we sprang into high gear with a solid month of weeding, desperate pleas to return books, inventory, the physical packing of the 10,000 books, and the packing and moving of our offices from our spacious library to an itty bitty conference room.  Whew!

Takin' out the trash; gettin' stuff done.

 Our biggest project, of course, was the actual packing and moving of our collection.  We closed the library completely to students and staff and dedicated a week for packing.  We did this ourselves, with the help of parent volunteers, using boxes provided by the moving company that was also packing and moving the science wing below us.  We divided the library into sections--graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction 001-399, nonfiction 400-899, nonfiction 900s, reference desk materials, yearbooks, and magazines (we have large bound editions of LIFE and American Heritage magazines from the 1940s and 50s).  We packed the boxes in shelf order to make it easier when we unpack.  Filling the boxes was occasionally a tricky problem, though--book sizes, especially in the arts and history sections, vary greatly!  We worked in three-person teams:  One person removed the books from the shelf and handed them to person number two, who made sure the box was filled completely and in shelf order.  Person number three taped and moved the boxes as we went, and made sure empty boxes were labeled properly (with color-coded tags reading "fiction box 5" or "400-899 box 23") and close at hand.  Using this method, we packed almost 10,000 books in less than three days.  Our final breakdown was as follows:
  • 10 boxes of graphic novels
  • 32 boxes of fiction
  • 6 boxes of yearbooks
  • 28 boxes of magazines
  • 57 boxes nonfiction 001-399  
  • 75 boxes nonfiction 400-899
  • 100 boxes nonfiction 900s
  • 1 box reference
  • plus an additional 10 boxes of various workroom materials and odds and ends (board games, workbooks, books that were returned late that will need to be shelved when we unpack, etc.)

Lizz and Sean pack the fiction collection

When all the books were packed, we had a big room full of empty shelves with stacks of hundreds of boxes lining the walls. 

The boxes were moved to the gymnasium, where they will be stored until the new library is completed in the fall.  

While we packed out offices, the movers took down the shelving, removed all the furniture, and stripped the library bare.  The library's last official act took place the day before spring break, when we used the space to collect the laptops from the freshmen and sophomore classes for repairs and reimaging over spring break.

Now, with break over and school back in session, the construction company has put up a wall where the hallway to the library used to be.  

We won't see our library until school starts again until August, when it will look very different and be much improved!