Easy Weeding of Fiction Books in the School Library

Easy Weeding of Fiction Books in the School Library - As School Librarians we want to offer our students a stimulating collection of Fiction books, so it's necessary to periodically weed out books that are no longer in line with our population's interests. Here's my easy method for weeding Fiction books. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #weedingbooks #FictionLet’s talk about one of a School Librarian’s 3 most dreaded tasks: weeding (the other 2 are inventory and overdue books, right?) Earlier I explained my 6-step process for weeding Dewey books, so now we tackle weeding Fiction books.

When I began as School Librarian at my middle school, it was only 2 years old. We still had 3 years of higher funding to build our collection, so my first 3 years I didn’t do any weeding of either Fiction or Dewey. Needless to say, by the 4th year, the Fiction section looked pretty good, but I wasn’t satisfied with some of the titles on the shelves.

If you didn’t know, new school libraries are often begun with a vendor package of book titles purportedly chosen for the grade levels of the school. I discovered that what they actually do is clear their warehouse of old books that have been sitting there awhile and throw in enough new titles so the average age of the collection isn’t some time in the Stone Age.

That first time weeding Fiction was, to say the least, a learning experience, and it helped me develop an easy system that served me for a decade.

WHEN TO WEED FICTION

The beauty of weeding Fiction is that we can do it any time. Think about it: any books that aren’t on the shelves—that is, checked out or on re-shelving carts—are actively used by someone so they don’t need to be weeded! That’s still a lot of books to consider, so I do mini-weeds.

What’s a mini-weed? It isn’t necessary to weed the entire Fiction collection every year. If we set up a schedule and consistently weed small sections each year, we’ll regularly rotate through the entire collection. I typically section books into those on one side of an aisle. As time presents itself during the school year, I do one section, then later another one, until I’ve completed those on the schedule.

WHAT TO WEED IN FICTION

First, we need to decide our purpose in weeding Fiction:

  • We can weed for currency, that is, remove old publication date books to update the average age of the collection. (This is, BTW, my criterion for Dewey.)
  • We can weed for relevancy, that is, remove books that haven’t circulated for awhile to increase the circulation numbers for the collection.

Except for my first weeding, I always weed Fiction for relevancy. If the purpose of our Fiction collection is to promote independent reading, then we want books on the shelves that are appealing to students. Relevancy means students are drawn to a book—for whatever reason—and will check it out. Relevancy allows older, popular “classics” to remain, but weeds out other old pub date books, accomplishing both purposes.

Second, we need to decide the cut-off date and circulation numbers to set up our report in the automation system. Many librarians weed Fiction books with under 10 checkouts in 5 years, and you may want to do that, too. For my report I choose to weed any Fiction book with 0-5 checkouts during the past 4 years. How do I justify these numbers?

In our middle school, we have every-other-week library visits with all ELA classes for book checkout and sustained silent reading (SSR) which we call DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). I’m not good at probability, but here’s my reasoning:

  • A student can check out 3 books at a time, so a book has 3 chances of being chosen by 1 student during a single library visit.
  • ELA visits the library 15 times during the school year, so a book has 45 opportunities to be chosen by a student during a school year.
  • We have roughly 650 students, so each book has 29,250 chances to be chosen within a school year.
  • As a 6-8 middle school, each incoming group of students has 3 years of visits to choose Fiction books, so each book has 87,750 opportunities to be chosen during a 3-year period.
  • I allow an extra year, just to be sure, which puts it over 100,000 chances for a book to be chosen. If, after that many opportunities it hasn’t been checked out, it’s cluttering the shelf and preventing other books from being noticed.

When weeding Fiction, we need to decide the cut-off date and circulation numbers for our report. For my report I choose to weed any Fiction book with 0-5 checkouts during the past 4 years. Here's how I justify these numbers...

For my population & collection, I choose 0-5 checkouts because my minimum appeal number is 2 students/year. I figure, if a student likes a book, they’ll tell a friend about it. If that happens each year for 3 years, the book will be checked out 6 times and I’ll leave it on the shelf. Fewer than that isn’t worth the shelf space. Even if a book had high circulation after initial purchase, when it’s checked out fewer and fewer times within any 4-year period, then it’s lost its appeal and needs to go.

HOW TO WEED FICTION

When setting up the report, I identify a certain range of Fiction books. Before I reorganized Fiction into Subjects, I set the range for particular Call Numbers, like FIC AAA – FIC BRO. When I re-organized, I assigned the book’s Subject to the system’s Home Location field, so now I set the report for the specific Home Location of the Subject section I want to weed. In either case I set the report to sort by Call Number so it’s in alpha-author order, the same as the books on shelves.

The final step is to take a cart and a printout of the report to the location, and simply go down the aisle, pulling books to the cart. I don’t bother crossing off the list; I just indicate where I stop in case I get interrupted. Once I’ve gone through the entire report, I take the cart to the circulation desk and scan the book barcodes into DISCARD. Then I remove identifiers and pack the books in boxes, ready for pickup by the district warehouse, who does our book disposal for us.

The weed report goes into the trash, even if there are books on the list that didn’t get pulled: they’re either checked out or on the returned book re-shelving cart, so they’re being read and don’t need to be weeded. Even if a book is mis-shelved, some student put hands on it, so it’s still of interest. If not, it’ll get weeded next year!

WHAT IFS

What about lost or missing books? They’re extraneous to the weeding process; because they’re already off the shelves, they’re a matter for inventory, not weeding.

Many School Librarians share stories of horrified teachers and admin seeing them throw out weeded books. Here’s a possible explanation you might use to justify what you do.

Books are like great food, but instead of feeding the body, they nourish the mind. When we encounter food in our kitchen or—gasp!—at the grocery store that is past the expired date, we know that food is no longer healthful for us. The same is true of a book: when it’s past the time that it’s accurate or relevant, then it’s no longer nourishing, and in fact, can be damaging. That’s why we weed: to be sure our school library is providing wholesome and beneficial sustenance for the intellect and the soul.

If you’ve been holding back on weeding for whatever reason, I hope this article stimulates you to jump in. It’s actually quite a satisfying process, knowing you’ve cleared away the “weeds.” Students are better able to notice the remaining books on the cleared off shelves, so they read more and our circulation improves.

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Best Practices for School Librarians

Best Practices for School Librarians - Are you a Librarian Influencer? On Dr. Laura Sheneman's Podcasts, veteran School Librarians share their expertise to help us build our personal learning network & be effective instructional partners in our schools. Listen in to The Legacy of Librarianship Continues Because of Best Practices. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #bestpractices #readingpromotion #libraryadministration #teachercollaborationMY LIBRARIAN INFLUENCERS
PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH
DR. LAURA SHENEMAN

I believe our only purpose as a school librarian is to educate our youth. Books may be perfectly arranged on shelves and electronic devices hum, but the students that pass through our doors are the most important reason we are where we are. We can’t forget that. A kid is more important than a book or a piece of equipment or any other material in our school library. All those other things are expendable; a child is not. Even the difficult ones.

I’ve made this point on my blog, and I make it in my interview with Dr. Laura Sheneman, the producer and host for the Librarian Influencers Podcast.

The Librarian Influencers Podcast highlights experienced librarians who share their knowledge and expertise with other K-12 school librarians, especially those new to the field or studying to become school librarians.

Dr. Laura Sheneman taught Library Science graduate courses for more than 10 years at Sam Houston State University, and is currently Coordinator of the Division of Instructional Support at the Texas Education Agency Region 1 ESC along the Rio Grande River in South Texas.

Looking @ Best Practices for School Librarians - Are you a Librarian Influencer? On Dr. Laura Sheneman's Podcasts, veteran School Librarians share their expertise to help us build our personal learning network & be effective instructional partners in our schools. Listen in to The Legacy of Librarianship Continues Because of Best Practices. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #bestpractices #readingpromotion #libraryadministration #teachercollaborationI feel so honored to be part of the group of librarians Dr. Sheneman has presented in her Podcasts. She gives an introduction and overview of our talk as a post, which includes links to both her podcast page and her libsyn.com page for the audio interview.

To hear our interview, which I hope you find helpful,
please visit Dr. Laura Sheneman’s Podcast
.

I had a wonderful time talking with Dr. Sheneman. We discovered a shared vision about what a School Library Program can be, and much common ground on policies & procedures.

I’ve read Dr. Sheneman’s blog and listened to all her podcasts. She is now an important part of my professional learning community. When you listen to her podcast interviews with veteran librarians, I know you’ll want to add her to your PLC, too.

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41 Useful Websites for School Librarians

41 Useful Websites for School Librarians - Here are 41 quality Websites that School Librarians will find helpful to gather information & ideas on professional development & advocacy, library lessons & activities, reading promotion, and technology. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #schoollibrarian #professionaldevelopment #advocacy #librarylessons #reading #edtechI don’t normally do this…just throw out a bunch of websites, but right now I’m cleaning up my browser bookmarks. If, as a School Librarian, you’re anything like me, you accumulate dozens of great websites as you read education and library listservs, bloggers, Facebook group comments, and Twitter feeds. The hard part is trying to organize these sites in a logical manner.

I have a Library & Librarian folder with a few subfolders, and a long list of uncategorized URLs. As I organize these valuable resources, I’m sharing them to you, with short annotations about why they’re helpful. So here goes: 41 Useful Websites for School Librarians on professional development & advocacy, library lessons & activities, reading promotion, and technology.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, ADVOCACY

AASL eCOLLAB51 Free Webinars from the American Association of School Librarians on professional learning topics. 

Library Impact Studies Infographica compact advocacy tool from Library Research Service. Available for print & online viewing.

Library and Information Science EncyclopediaIf you encounter library terminology in your readings, but may not be quite sure what it is, consult this brief list for an explanation! From internationally-known blogger librarian Salman Haider.

Mackin CommunityBook vendor Mackin’s blog with resources for libraries & classrooms, makerspaces, and professional learning. Add this site to your feed!

Project ConnectSponsored by Follett, this site offers guidance for the Future Ready Librarians framework, including PD and teaching ideas.

School Librarians: Why we still need them!article by Jamie McKenzie with some strong support to use for advocacy.

School Libraries WorkWhile you can still download the 2008 version directly, the newer 2016 version wants you to submit your email address and other info. Still, a valuable document to use for advocacy and justifying (alas, we need to) having a certified School Librarian in a school library.

Top School Library BlogsA list maintained by Laura McPherson with 50 librarian bloggers you can add to your blog feed!

Virtual Middle School LibraryWith dozens of links to useful resources for school librarians, this site, maintained by Linda Bertland, retired school librarian, has an especially valuable resource page for professional learning.

Web JunctionA free learning site from OCLC Research offers self-paced courses, webinar recordings on a variety of topics related to library services and management.

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)a U.S. Dept of Education website with research on programs, products, practices, and policies that answers the question “What works in education?”

LIBRARY LESSONS & ACTIVITIES

AASL Best Websites for Teaching & LearningEvery year our national association picks, what they consider to be, websites of ” innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. … free web-based sites that are user friendly.” What’s especially nice is the little icons that show which of our Shared Foundations each one addresses.

Bingo Cards & Word Searches are quick ways to engage students for reviewing content. Here are 3 sites that generate customized bingo cards on a 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 grid: BingoBaker & ESLactivities both generate cards with words or graphics; MyFreeBingoCards has thematic backgrounds for words or numbers. WordSearchLab has already created searches, or create your own of any size and number of words.

5 Minute Lesson Plan Series37 different downloadable graphic templates to quickly create a lesson plan. Whatever your admin wants, you’ll probably find it here.

HyperDocs Interactive Content & MultimediaAs stated on the site: “The most difficult and time consuming part of creating a HyperDoc … is finding the content to engage your students in the learning process. I’ve curated several lists that I hope will help get your started.” There are a dozen categories with a varying number of websites with resources and tools.

Interactive Learning Menus (Choice Boards)Ideas for differentiated learning that give students a menu or choice of learning activities; can be part of a HyperDoc. From Shake Up Learning.

Makerspace Starter KitThe Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones, provides a list of great tools for starting a makerspace in your library.

Primary Source Setsthe Digital Public Library of America has more than 35 million digital resources including these curated collections on topics in history, literature, and culture, with teaching guides for class use.

Skype in the ClassroomMicrosoft’s FREE go-to source for Virtual Field Trips, Guest Speakers, classroom connections, and live collaboration projects. I first heard about this from Stony Evans, and think it’s one of the most engaging activities you can do with students.

Smithsonian Learning Labfree, interactive, easy-to-use tools using the millions of Smithsonian resources to adapt one of thousands of existing collections, or to create your own lessons, like digital research skills with built-in tools for creating & using proper citations.

Spruce Up Learning Centers w/ Tech – Tony Vincent’s blog post with lots of specific information and examples to make any learning station in your library that much better with technology.

READING PROMOTION

Biblionasiumsort of a GoodReads for kids; free, protected site for ages 6-13 to encourage independent reading. Tools can create book reviews, reading logs, and personalized reading lists.

Classroom Libraries: Best apps for keeping trackWe Are Teachers blog post offers 6 apps teachers can use to keep track of their class books. Hey, they’re gonna have ’em, so we might as well support them…and they’ll love us for it and support the library even more! 

Librarians Lovenifty book talks and display ideas from secondary school librarians.

Library of Congress Center for the Booka rich resource for librarians with recommended books, author webcasts, book awards, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.

The Online Books Page –  Plain website listing over 3 million free books on the Web, along with archives & indexes in languages around the world. This large database is maintained by a digital librarian at UPenn.

Social Justice BooksBooklists and other resources to help librarians build a diverse collection of titles and encourage a more culturally responsive reading experience for students.

State Award Reading ListsThis Simon & Schuster site has current Award Reading Lists from every state, along with curriculum, teaching, & reading group guides, themed collections, & reading levels. If you need labels for your State Award Reading List, they’re available as a customization in my Reading Promotion for ELA product at No Sweat Library, my TPT store. 

SYNC If you’ve never heard of this site, you are in for a treat. SYNC offers FREE audiobooks for teens every summer—2 complete audiobooks a week for 14 weeks. I always told students about it at their last library visit of the school year and provided the link and a QR code to the site.

TECHNOLOGY

AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning – As with the websites, AASL picks, what they consider to be, apps of “exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning.” They also have little icons to show which of our Shared Foundations each addresses.

BEAM Chart MakerYes, we teach students how to make spreadsheet data graphs, like MS Excel, but this online app is quick & easy. Just choose the style, click the graph element, and fill in the information. Graphics like this can add so much to those end-of-grading-period library reports for principals & teachers. (If you don’t do that, this is a great way to get started!)

GooseChase EduFree and reasonably priced options to create educational scavenger hunts with mobile technology (IOS or Android app). Students (or teachers!) earn points by submitting a photo, video, or text.

Internet Archive Digital Library – Hundreds of millions of important webpages and media. Their Wayback Machine is a searchable database of 20+ years of web history.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to EverythingIf you need information or guidance on educational technology, this is the place to go! Kathy has been blogging about edtech for more than 20 years and is still the best one-stop spot for general edtech info.

Media Literacy Educator CertificationDeveloped by PBS/KQED & Digital Promise, you can earn 8 media literacy micro-credentials to become a PBS Certified Media Literacy Educator.

Minecraft Education EditionIf you want to use Minecraft in your library, this site is the gateway to the education edition of the popular game. Special features for educators such as easy tutorials, classroom management tools, secure sign-in, classroom collaboration and tons of sample lessons, plus a global network of mentors and tech support.

100 Useful Websites for Educators and Students – With YA Books & More, Naomi Bates blogs about books, websites, and anything else a librarian might need. This page is a list of what she considers the most valuable website collection a librarian can have. It’s about 3 years old, but most of the links are still valid…and on my own “best” list!

Top 20 PowerPoint AlternativesPost from the Visme blog offers an open-minded examination of free & paid apps to use for presentations. Video demos are helpful. (Heavy content, allow time to load in browser.)

WRAPPING UP

You may be wondering about sites for information literacy or subject areas. Those are also huge unorganized lists, so we’ll save them for future blog posts. For now, have fun looking these over and adding them to your browser bookmarks. If you have some bookmarked sites on these 4 topics you’d like to share, add them into the comments!

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