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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Tracking inhouse use?

I hate wasting time. Doing tasks that don’t seem meaningful or high priorities can be frustrating. Work with a student or track statistics? Which do you choose? Of course we choose the student because we are SCHOOL librarians. Students are our focus and the reason we arrive smiling everyday.

Moving to a new school after the beginning of school left me with the feeling of being constantly behind. I took two days to move in and try to frantically sort through twenty years of “stuff” in the backroom. I started teaching immediately and am researching as much as possible on STEM for elementary.

What have I been wasting my non-instructional time on?  I have set up a system with library cards so students can come self-checkout during Open Checkout Time. I have typed all 500 students’ names into the Renaissance Place database for Accelerated Reader, exported them into STAR Reading on a stand-alone server and corrected each name to be enrolled with their teacher. I have re-arranged some furniture to promote movement, learning, and inquiry. I have labeled every shelf column with their designation (Biography, Reference, Fiction, Picture Books, DDC). I have caught up with every teacher’s textbook needs and prepared for the month of district technology inventory. I’ve been working on presentations on New and Needed Nonfiction to present this week and at the Tennessee Association of Middle Schools conference next week. I’ve been researching ways to correlate Common Core State Standards with STEM methods and AASL/ISTE standards. I have been surveying students for their interests. I’ve worked on the school web page and delivered tons of textbooks and math manipulatives for the new adoption. I’ve been assembling evidence of my work for the new teacher evaluation system. I’ve been writing newsletters for teachers and doing personal technology instruction.

In other words, I haven’t done anything different than the majority of you. When I read an email warming me that I’d have to track statistics to turn in each quarter, I wanted to scream.

Knowing that, I hope you can appreciate the effort it took me to track inhouse usage during one week of elementary school. You should know that I have a fixed schedule and see only half the school in a scheduled way each week. Most of the teachers have not begun any formal research projects yet and have left students to explore topics of their own interest in the library. The checkout stats are for the first four weeks and the inhouse for just last week. With that in mind, here are some interesting numbers to consider:

One week of stats:

Category Checkouts In-House Usage
Picture Books 830 93
Fiction 617 31
Nonfiction 680 607
Reference 3 165
Online Reference with Encyclopdia Britannica & World Books 420

How do you interpret this data? What trends are suggested? Do you think they will change?

I found the number of nonfiction titles I had to pick up hourly and scan for inhouse use was overwhelming. I kept some of those titles on various subject based carts near student seating and watched them fly off the cart every hour. I gave up trying to put away nonfiction titles last week since I was re-organizing every nonfiction shelf and trying to spread out the collection for better browsing.

Instead, I ended up creating piles of books by DDC to be sorted and put away Friday night after school. Amazingly 90% of the 700’s piles were taken from those messy piles and checked out again. Students still found them. As the number of 500’s returned grew, the titles remaining on the shelf were considered by students for the first time in ages. They told me that the shelves were too full to look at the little books and it wasn’t until the shelves started to empty out that they re-discovered books.

This week I’m continuing to re-arrange the nonfiction to spread out the collection, provide face-outs on every shelf, and encourage exploration. I was going to take photographs of how empty the shelves are but everytime I face-out a book and stand with my camera, someone checks out the book.

I cannot wait til I have an assistant to help manage this chaos. Our circulation is only up 67% this year because we had such a late start. I can’t wait to see what happens when I actually feel like I’m catching up and we truly take off.