During my years as a school librarian I’ve picked up a few pointers from colleagues, from my listservs, and from racking my brain to find solutions to a problem. Not only do these tips and tricks help with using and managing the library, they are also good library—and librarian—advocacy. Remember, the most positive Library Promotion we can do is through our actions rather than our words!
Let me share the best of these tidbits with you.
- During School Library Media Month in April, create a patron called “Winner! Winner!” and check out a few dozen books to that patron. Re-shelve the books (still checked out). When a student checks out one of the books, a pop-up message says “This item is checked out to Winner! Winner!” The student ‘winner’ gets a little prize like a bookmark, poster, or acceptable snack item. (Idea from Michelle Burger LMS, Beach Elementary School, Portland, OR)
- When students need help locating something, I use a laser pointer to direct them to the location. By pointing to the aisle and the sign on the end of a bookcase, I can quickly guide students when I’m busy with others at the circulation desk or in a different area of the library.
- Help students track series books with signs showing the covers of books in order. I make them with a slide presentation app. When printing out, use options for multiple slides per page, then laminate and tape the signs to the inside backs or uprights of shelves.
- Decorative signage, even a “fun” poster, can be purposeful and placed where it relates to content. Here’s mine:
- DK Eyewitness books come with posters, so I wrote Dewey numbers on the posters and put them on the ends of related bookcases or on the wall at the end of that aisle. The colorful posters invite students to find those books on the shelves and serve as a location reminder for students.
- At the end of my 973 aisle are posters of the Statue of Liberty and Texas cattle brands; both posters draw students to the aisle with U.S. and Texas History books.
- On the ends of the Spanish Fiction bookcase is a reading promotion poster written “en Español”—both a locator and language practice.
FOR LIBRARY MANAGEMENT:
- To remove permanent marker from whiteboards, shelves, tables, etc., go over it with a dry-erase marker. When dry, just erase with a dry cloth or dry erase spray cleaner and a cloth.
- Use yellow highlighter to write “Original” on the master of a print document; it keeps you (and others) from using it and the yellow doesn’t show up when you make new copies.
- To keep mouses and cables from being taken off computers, secure a plastic self-locking tie around cables and a piece of hardware on the back of the CPU case.
- To keep track of pieces of A/V/D equipment, take a digital photo of the item with all its accessories. Create a document with the photo and label the accessories. Print & laminate it, then attach to the main piece of equipment so whoever checks it out can see all the parts to be returned.
- I purchased letter-size acrylic self-stick sign holders and put them inside the windows of the library doors. Various printed signs facing outward alert students and teachers to that day’s library activities and, facing inside, I put reminders for students as they walk out the door. I store the signs right in the holders, and since they’re open on 3 sides it’s easy to change signs.
- In my state, education law precludes teachers being financially responsible for items used by students. So, for books or other items that students will use in the classroom, I created a “Classroom Number [X]” user account for each classroom. I check out items to that account to track them and document circulation, then discharge them when returned. If items are missing I do notify the teachers and they usually find them; however, if an item is still missing at the end of the school year, I just charge it to Missing Items.
I also use Classroom user accounts to check out items that are barcoded but permanently in classrooms, such as projector screens, TVs, whiteboards, and presentation carts. This allows me to keep a permanent inventory of these items in my system without associating them to teachers who may come and go.
- Laminated Library Passes – At the start of each school year I create a Library Pass for each classroom teacher. (4 passes fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.) Since they’re laminated, teachers use a dry-erase marker to write student names and their purpose for being sent to the library. When students return, the teacher just wipes off the pass. Attaching a magnetic or stick-on clip allows the teacher to attach it to the wall near the door.
(I also create 6 numbered & laminated passes for me to send students to their locker for overdue books. All 6 fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.)
- Teacher’s CAB: Classroom Accessories Bin
When I arrived at my school library I found several dozen black plastic magazine bins. Since we have an online magazine database service, I don’t keep print copies so what to do with all these bins? I realized they would be a good way to dispense small items that teachers use every year. I labeled a bin for each classroom and distribute them at the start of the school year; teachers turn them in at the end of the year and I place them atop the bookcases for the summer. They’re very popular with teachers, who keep them handy by their desks. The items in the bin are:
- a teacher dictionary
- TV remote control
- my Quik-flip Teacher’s Guide to the Library
- their laminated Library Pass mentioned above
- their room’s color-coded plastic hall pass with extra inserts
- blank USB drive to back up important documents from classroom computer (purchased in bulk by the principal)
- select teachers get a digital camera to share with other hallway teachers
When I dispense the CAB, I also include a Classroom Inventory sheet listing the A/V/D equipment in their classroom and any barcoded teaching materials checked out to them for the year.
I hope your find these tips and tricks helpful in your own School Library. If you’ve discovered other great ideas, please share them with the rest of us in the comments below!