“I didn’t realize how important that number is.”
“You weren’t kidding about moving some books today.”
“I had no idea I’d be sore from helping in here yesterday.”
“I know, I know, right to left, top to bottom. I got it.”
“What do you mean, the shelf is off a little. Parallel. Whooa, this ain’t math class!”
These are just a few comments I’ve heard from the kids this week. You see, we removed a bookcase and finished weeding probably another 1000 books this week, and so some shelves are completely empty, while some are too full. So the obvious solution was to shift books. I’ve had volunteers from the student body coming in during various free times, and they have been incredibly helpful. I felt a little guilty, as it really has been a lot like manual labor. But I tried to explain it to one teacher like this–and I’ve said this repeatedly–move one shelf of books in the library, and you move them ALL. We are now trying to spread them out, make the shelves visually balanced, and ensure shelves are parallel (same height, all the way around.) It was shocking to notice shelves off kilter that before went unnoticed b/c they were FULL to overflowing. But once space was made from weeding, the uphill, downhill look was an eyesore. My volunteers got an authentic taste of Dewey today. Handling the books gave them a better understanding of how the books are shelved than any lesson I’ve ever tried to teach regarding book arrangement ever. They were talking about the weight of books, the dustiness around, particles floating in the air and why, about level shelves, about the 4 clips that effectively hold a shelf up loaded with books, and more. (I can think of many academic tie-ins here, and they were naturally discussing them w/o any reference to tests or classes or subjects.) They expressed concern over the empty space now available on every shelf, and fund raising ideas for getting more books. The best idea tossed out was to sell the entire print reference collection since no one they know uses it. Then they were guessing how much the different books would get our school. It was rather funny.
W e still have a long way to go in getting this library ship-shape, but I’m glad to report kids are taking an extreme interest in the project. As we talked about the space available on shelves, I showed how I like to display books–stand them up so they can be seen from the cover. I then asked them to go to the shelves that had empty space and make a selection to display. Oh my, it was a race. The middle school kids when done were talking about the books they had selected to be the display. They were very proud when their book was checked out today. Even though there is still a lot to be done, this made me feel really good that students are taking pride in their library. I really feel that more books will be checked out this year simply b/c they can see that we have a lot of great books. They just could not see the forest for the trees before. With every shelf crammed full, well, browsing just could not happen. Now there is real browsing like there should be.
I’m planning a book store event–where we set up displays by genres, soon. I think i’ll get the kids to help me choose the books for the categories (romance, horror, mysteries, suspense, science fiction, and more…) They will have to defend to the group why their book should go with the display.
What a bonus today. The students really acted like they liked the books here. No one asked to use a computer. And it’s looking better and better. I think I’ll ask them how to decorate the library when we finish this reshuffling of books.
Yes, this is an official SYP post. I hope you enjoyed it.
Image: “Library.” Stewart’s Photostream. 11 February 2006. 3 October 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/12037949632@N01/99129170