“Embed” Features into a School Library Website

"Embed" Features into a School Library Website - A School Librarian can make the School Library Website truly useful to students and teachers by embedding elements from other Web sources. Here are some examples of how to offer valuable information in an inviting way. #NoSweatLibraryA library website is pretty standard for schools, but a School Librarian needs to ask, “Is our School Library Website truly useful to students and teachers?

I created my first school website in the mid 90s and included useful curriculum links for students and teachers. As The Web developed, I added more advanced features to my school library website that increased its value for viewers. One valuable addition has been embedded features from other web sources to support reading, research, library use, and communication outside the school library.


A popular embed with students was a Shelfari “bookshelf” showing newly arrived books from our Junior Library Guild subscription. Since our library website is the “homepage” for student computers, students quickly noticed these books and would check them out!

(Note: Shelfari is no longer available, but you can see it in the above image. Library Thing also provides an embed feature that can be used for this purpose, as you can see below with my own books.)

Other helpful embeds that promote a reading culture in our school are podcast booktalks and video booktrailers created by 7th & 8th grade ELA students. It’s exciting for students to create these and then see them displayed on the school library website, and their fellow students view them to decide which books to check out next.


Our school has a highly transitory school population so I embedded a helpful ThingLink map of our School Library. New students click on the icons to find out more about the library. I included a YouTube video on how to choose a good book and a personal SoundCloud greeting from me, the Librarian, Ms. P. Try some of the info-icons yourself!


Supporting student research is an important part of a school library website. I have links to our online subscription databases and e-books on the homepage so students can immediately use them.

Providing a linklist of student research resources is helpful, but I also use an embed feature to engage student interest in resources that are especially good, for example, directing 7g Social Studies students to the Texas Almanac!

almanac home | Texas Almanac

The Texas Almanac is a biennially published reference work providing information for the general public on the history of the state and its people, government and politics, economics, natural resources, holidays, culture, education, recreation, the arts, and other topics.

Another way to support students is by providing Research Helpers, such as my “Sight-Site-Cite” embedded video, used by teachers in the classroom and by other librarians in my district to introduce the concept of “citation” to elementary and middle school students.


Finally, I embed short videos of Library Happenings to keep our stakeholders aware of how valuable the library is to students & teachers. Featuring various activities keeps parents coming to not only the school website, but also the library website in particular. When parents become familiar with the library site, they are more likely to remind their kids about library resources when working on an assignment or to find an answer to a question. Here is a short promotional video I created by simply uploading pictures of activities to Animoto and allowing it to create the video:

Add Embedded Features to Your School Library Website! - Embedding resources into our School Library Website creates a more engaging experience for users, and also advocates for the School Library and the School Librarian as essential to the school community. #NoSweatLibraryEmbedding resources into our School Library Website creates a much more engaging and supportive experience for our users, whether students, teachers, parents, or other visitors.

An exciting School Library Website also promotes the School Library and the School Librarian as essential to the whole educational community.

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Physical & Virtual Workspaces of a School Librarian

Effective school library administration means having good organization and documentation skills, both physical and virtual. Here's how this School Librarian organizes--and documents--my physical and virtual workspaces. | No Sweat LibraryI’m obsessive-compulsive about storage organization. On the surface, my School Library, my classroom—and my house—may often look like a cyclone roared through leaving piles of devastation, but if you ask me for something stored on a shelf or in a cupboard, drawer, or closet, I can immediately put my hands on it or direct you to it.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I helped many friends and neighbors organize kitchens, bathrooms, and closets. My 3 different high-school science classrooms were the picture of excellent organization, right down to the proper arrangement of chemicals (trust me, it’s NOT alphabetical!). The school library became a bigger challenge, but basically it’s just another “home” to arrange.


Every part of my middle school library is sorted, organized, and labeled so even a total stranger can locate anything according to my very detailed and color-coded organizational maps. I even have a map of the lights on my 16-ft ceiling to show custodians which light bulbs need replacing.

Here’s one example of how detailed I can be: a map of my School Library Circulation Desk.
Example of detailed map of a School Library circulation area, showing purpose of each area and what is contained in it.

The circulation desk computer—with the library automation program—is used continuously throughout the day for checking books in and out, and I run various school library reports as needed—overdue notices, weeding, circulation statistics, etc. It also has an administrative program to control the 30 student library computers, which is valuable for helping students with new technology applications and for quickly setting up the online testing we do in the library (and, of course, for catching off-task student behavior!) .

Map of Fiction Subject Layout of LibraryOne semester I reorganized the Fiction book area by Subjects so students could find what they liked to read more quickly. Part of doing that was creating a map to decide which shelving would hold which Subjects, and I still use this map to track the circulation of each Subjects by grade so I can make changes to avoid overcrowding in the aisles during whole-class browsing.

Map of Dewey Decimal BookshelvesI have a similar map for the Dewey area, showing which range of Dewey decimal numbers is on each shelf. This may seem obsessive to some—I already admitted to that—but it’s so much easier to keep track of completed weeding and inventory using a graphical layout I can just highlight with colors, instead of a boring list.


Map of Dewey Decimal BookshelvesIt’s inconvenient to use the circulation computer for the many administrative tasks required of a School Librarian. Fortunately there’s a Librarian office behind the circulation area with a computer workstation. My office space is organized for convenience and has its own colorful map. I use it for such library administrative work as:

  • library scheduling
  • ordering books and media
  • managing the library budget
  • planning Library Lessons to align/integrate with subject curricula
  • learning the features of online subscription databases for lessons, teacher needs, etc.
  • creating media for lessons—videos, photos/images, interactive slides, online student work
  • creating student bookmarks and other reading promotion materials
  • creating signage for the library
  • updating the library website
  • taking and creating professional development.

It’s also a private place where I can process email, make calls to vendors, parents, teachers, and other folks, or have a confidential talk with a student or teacher. If someone comes into the library, I stop what I’m doing and leave the office, to give my complete attention to the visitor’s needs. When I return to the office I can quickly pick up where I left off.


Map of Library Back Room

I have a large back workroom and I keep it as organized as possible so I can actually work in there. The back wall is lined with cupboards, with a sink near one end. I love having so much counter space, and so many storage areas for supplies and small items. Originally the room was overcrowded with 18 8’x3’x1.5′ metal shelves that held back issues of print magazines and all manner of audio/video equipment, but I’ve been able to move equipment into the classrooms to be more accessible, and I no longer keep back issues of print magazines because they’re available through our online subscription services. I donated the extra shelving to custodians and department heads, who were thrilled to have it for their own workroom storage needs.


cluttered computer desktop

Ugh! Never my desktop!

I want my virtual space just as organized as my physical one. I cringe when I see folks whose computer screens are cluttered with icons—how can they possibly find anything? I make sure I only have shortcuts on the desktop to minimize start-up time, and only to folders or apps which I use on a daily basis. I’ve consolidated my online presence into as few places as possible, especially those that also interface with my smartphone, and eliminated cloud memberships that aren’t useful for me, my teachers, or my students.

A Virtual Workspace: The School Library Website - We can help students find & use our online resources with good organization of the School Library Website. We may change the style each year, but we don't want to confuse students with radically new organization. #NoSweatLibraryI keep the School Library Website well-organized, too. There’s no point in providing students with online resources if they can’t easily find and use them. Throughout the years the style of the site has changed, but the organization stays basically the same: a column for online subscription services, a column for ClassLinks, and the center for topical blocks of other sources useful for students.

I’m still looking for the ideal “store everything” app. I found a great one for my personal use, but finding the best bookmarking app for websites for students and teachers is harder; it seems like just when I’ve made a decision, some new resource pops up to entice me!


My philosophy for my workspaces is “put it where you use it,” and I’ve been known to buy or build a wall of storage in order to save footsteps. My goal since retiring is to clean out everything I no longer use and recycle to those who can. Right now I’m in my small office, just off the entryway, and am surrounded by my books. No longer thousands on bookshelves in 5 different rooms, I’m down to a few hundred in just this room with floor to ceiling shelves on 2 sides. While they aren’t organized precisely by the Dewey Decimal System, they’re organized very carefully by topics. (My greatest frustration is not being able to organize my 600+ e-books on Amazon.com!)

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