I am just a little disappointed. You see for the last eight school days (give or take) there has been a major focus on weeding, particularly the nonfiction section of our collection. We came back this summer to all the books from mid 550 through 818 boxed up due to the addition of our production studio, and these books needed to be reshelved. I made the decision to unmercifully weed since they each had an opportunity to be handled, smelled, and seen with a critical eye (and nose–yes some smelled OLD!) I was given the go ahead by my principal and district media coordinator, and tackled the project with zest. Me, my assistant, substitutes and a parent volunteer began. We only devoted half of the day to the task as other activities and needs arose daily–we’re there to serve our staff and students first and foremost, so they always come before most library management type activity. Since we were reshelving we decided to do all of the nonfiction (000=999). Now I printed and gave the folks helping a printout of the books I suspected needed to go (of course I physically checked every book before it was discarded) and today figured that we discarded a total of 1165 books. There were MANY on the list that were just NOT found. I will have to check in Destiny to see if these books are categorized as “lost” from inventories that have been done prior to my coming in. We may be able to delete a few more. I sort of hope so.
South Carolina, so NOTORIOUS for poor test scores, has a reputation regarding our educational standards for teaching. When NCLB came about, SC had already set the bar high as far as student achievement. So our standards are rigorous, as is our state assessment program. I blogged about this before, and you can read the archived post from June 2007 for a more clear description.
Recently, our SC State Department of Education contact and liaison for library media programs released an assessment instrument to use on school library media programs. It is titled Achieving Exemplary School Libraries: School Library Program Recommendations and Evaluation Rubrics and it is located on the section for school library media programs, though I believe one has to be logged in to view it. It is 55 pages in length and is what I beleive a fair document. It is my goal to bring my collection up to what this document calls proficient, though I will long range goal work for what is known as exemplary. The “grades” a program can make even loosely match how are students are labeled based on their performance on our state assessment program of PACT (and scores classify one as Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced). PACT, I should say, our assessment program, stands for Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test. Even the name suggests to the unschooled reader that the test is designed to “challenge” students. Go figure! Using this rubric, a school library media program might be labeled Below Standard, Emerging, Proficient, or Exemplary. It’s pretty rigorous too, but not unattainable.
Which brings me back to this post. A lot of time, hard work, sweat, and sore muscles went into the discarding of those 1165 books. I was SO hoping that I would lose five years off my average collection age of 1988. But this evening I ran another collection analysis (our district uses Follett’s Titlewise.) I have actually used the program in all my years as a school LMS–since it was started. I find it an invaluable tool for assessing your collection. So I uploaded my records tonight, and my collection only lost 2 years. Now instead of 1988 as an average copyright date, the collection is 1990. Here is the data from TW.
But there is more. In order to be “Exemplary” there are roughly fifteen or so indicators that refer to the collection. These indicators have to do with age sensitivity for the various areas (i.e. sciences are more age sensitive than folk tales or fiction…) Here is a view of the beginning of the “indicators.”
Did you notice the number of books per student?? 15 per student. With my school having according to the analysis 566 students (and I know that does not match enrollment right now since we are roughly 650 students as of Wednesday…) we are right now offering 17.63 books per student. I should have adjusted the enrollment number BEFORE running the analysis. But a quickie punch on the calculator shows that we currently offer an estimated 650 students 15.53 books per student. Proficient only calls for ten books per student….With a goal to be exemplary, I cannot afford to weed anymore, but my age absolutely DEMANDS it. Am I holding myself to too high a standard?? I will be acquiring more books to the collection, and usually its about 300 books a year. (Note I still do not know what my budget is yet, so I could be way off in either direction, to the good or bad. If I am off I do pray its in my favor.)
Again it is just a snapshot above, and then that section is JUST about books. The program is also evaluated on scheduling, collaboration, instructional practices, and other areas.
So where do I go from here? To be proficient, I can drop down to ten books per students, and that also keeps me within SACS requiremnts. So I am going to shift my weeding helpers to the fiction section and the story collection section. These two sections are very old too, and even though the SC section is small, the fiction represents 35% of our total collection. Maybe getting in there and ridding the shelves of old stories will help. So I’m going to allow for about another 1000 books to go.
Overall I’m not too sad. The change in copyright age from 88 to 90 does indicate the collection is being addressed. And we’ve only just begun, not to mention this should not happen over night. Maybe not even in one school year. Wish me luck.