Apr 10th, 2011 by Cathy Jo Nelson
South Carolina school librarians impact the lives of their students daily. Whether working with entire classes or individuals, we enhance our students’ education. Study after study has proven the worth of effective school library programs led by certified school librarians. As of yet, South Carolina school libraries have not been featured in one of these studies. Let’s provide our administrators, district personnel, school board members, and state legislators with data that demonstrates the need to support school library programs in South Carolina!
The South Carolina Association of School Librarians is sponsoring a snapshot day of data for our school libraries. We ask that each school librarian choose a day in the month of April, National School Library Month, to collect data, anecdotes, testimonials, and photographs to submit to the SCASL Advocacy Committee. The committee will compile the data and other requested information and provide each South Carolina school librarian with a report that he/she will want to share with their school communities and state legislators. Together, we can provide a powerful picture of the impact our programs have.
How can I participate?
Please collect the following data to submit:
1. Type of schedule: fixed, flexible, or combination
2. Number of students attending your school
3. Number of teachers on your staff
4. Number of school librarians on your staff
5. Number of full or part time library assistants on your staff
6. Number of computers in your school library and on mobile laptop labs
7. Number of items in your library’s collection
B) Data from one day in April (choose one of your busiest days!)
8. Number of individual students visiting the library (not with a class)
9. Number of classes visiting the library and the total number of students in those classes
10. Number of teachers visiting the library (with and without classes)
11. Number of classes the school librarian taught
12. Number of items circulated
13. Number of individual student computer uses
C) Anecdotes and Testimonials from one day in April
D) Photographs from one day in April
Where will I submit the data, anecdotes/testimonials, and photographs collected?
The data you collect for #1-13 above should be entered in this survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/scaslsnapshot
All photographs can either be uploaded to the SCASL Flickr Account or attached to an email sent to email@example.com
When is the deadline for data and photo submittal?
Thursday, May 5th
Have questions about this initiative? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, I did mine on Thursday, April 7, 2011. Have you (or your SC school librarian) done YOURS?
So how’d it go?
It was a pretty rough day, as my co-librarian was absent, suffering from a bout of bronchitis. But the day was a day filled with classes (eight to be exact) as well as a lot of co-teaching and collaborative efforts with those teachers, so I decided to go ahead. My assistant and I struggled to keep up, but overall I felt it was representative of a good day in the library. Three different classes were using our print resources for poetry criticisms (secondary sources) and actual poems (primary sources) so there was quite a bit of reshelving happening hurriedly between classes. YIKES! We knew kids could get all of it from the databases, but 1) there was another class using most of the workstations available in the media center and 2) our teachers wanted the kids to understand the information was available in print format right in our library too.
My tips for those who still need to do this:
Use the SCASL created bookmark-sized survey. I printed out a bunch, cut them apart, and laid them all over the tables in the media center before school began. Since the media center is a regular hangout before school everyday, I knew this would be a good audience to solicit participation. My assistant and I just encouraged students to complete them. We had around 60 turned in. I had planned to do this again at lunch, but we were so busy, I forgot. My assistant and I were pleased with the ones we gathered early that morning though, so it wasn’t a total loss. When our kids made inquiries as to why we were doing this, I said 1) it is part of a national initiative (ALA’s Library Snapshot Program), 2) our state organization SCASL was sponsoring one for just our state, and 3) the anecdotes, personal testimonials, and other data collected could be used as proof to our own legislators, district leaders, and school board that when they are considering budget cuts, the library should not be on their list! When the kids heard that other librarians and library programs were being considered as cuts, and ours could just as easily be on that same chopping block, they were very vocal and happy to fill out the survey.
Some of the data asked for is a count of kids/teachers in the media center before school, during school but not with a class, at lunches, and after school. There was a separate place to put data about kids with classes.
Since before school we have a large number of kids hanging out, my assistant gave a click counter to one of our regular students, and she stood in the middle where she could see both doors, and counted students entering. On this day we had 145 kids! I knew it would be near that number since there are 140 physical places to sit and we typically run out of seats.
To manage keeping up with the visitors not with a class, I created a form to write in numbers. It wasn’t as fancy as this, but more of a roughly drawn set of labeled boxes. Students visiting during the day but not with classes are required to sign-in upon showing a pass, so it was easy to check the number of visitors per block. But there are also random students who visit who don’t follow that protocol for whatever reason (like the one who came to get a bulb replacement for a projector, among others.) I added those to my tally sheet after looking at the sign in sheet. It’s not perfect, but it is what I used–the sign-in sheet and my knowledge of visitors who did not sign in. I kept up with faculty and staff visitors, and just added them from memory too. I wrote in the numbers at the end of each category’s time frame, as I knew it would be difficult to remember them all at the end of the day.
The sign-in sheet and use of lunch passes helped to track student visitation. For lunch visitors, we have roughly 40 passes per lunch. I instructed my library workers to take passes back out to the cafeteria every ten minutes and to keep up with the number of passes for the duration of each lunch. We stayed pretty much within our normal numbers for lunch that day–around 40 visitors from the cafeteria during each of the three lunches.
Our after school visitors were surprisingly higher than I had anticipated. Our schedule has me arriving each morning (usually between 7 and 7:15 AM) so I can work the “before school” time slot. So officially I work from 7:30 AM until 3:30 PM, our students’ dismissal time. My co-librarian works daily from 8AM until 4PM, keeping the media center open after school. On days when she is absent, I stay until 4PM to maintain that after school service. So on our snapshot day, I stayed late. I was very surprised at the number coming after school. I do our monthly statistics, and have always just estimated the number of students visiting after school to be around 15 after talking with the co-librarian. On this particular day I counted 36 kids. I need to ask if I am underestimating for our after school numbers in our monthly report! That is still a low number for after school, but higher than I had originally thought.
Anyway, just having this informal sheet of boxes handy to fill in after every time frame outlined for the day made it easy to track the numbers.
The other data (i.e. number of teachers, number of students, type of schedule, etc.) was easily filled out with little extra work. Circ numbers were easily obtained through the circulation program/reports found in Destiny. You are also asked to submit “Snapshot day” pictures and anecdotes or testimonies form your library patrons. Perhaps I’ll share the anecdotes and testimonies in a different post. My pictures have already been posted to the SCASL site. So far there are just mine, but I hope to soon see others.
Get ‘er done y’all!!
So there really isn’t a good excuse NOT to participate. Best, the data will be used to paint a picture–and it can easily be done for districts, regions, and state wide. It is great information to share with legislators –a wonderful advocacy tool. So PLEASE do your part and be counted.
Snapshot Day Logo – from ALA
Form – Homemade by yours truly
Surveys – from the PhotosStream of the SC_Association_School_Librarians (but one of mine!!)