The daily life of a Middle School Library Media Assistant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time blur

Time went by in blur for the first two weeks. Book processing continued, my favorite, the permabound books are the easiest. Break in the spine, stamp, number and barcode and they are all ready to go! We process Brave New Worlds, Martian Chronicles with a smattering of other titles to replace lost or damaged copies. Make room on shelves for them. Classes were still coming in without the first of the year big push. Our pile of boxes for surplus became behemoth-sized as an old room was cleaned out. I had to give the kids instruction on weight restrictions, packaging, labeling as the columns of boxes arrived on hand trucks. All along the workroom wall, 8 boxes high, 2 or 3 columns deep and row after row. I even move some of our science texts over so the kids can pile boxes up behind the door. If they're not packed correctly, they won't get picked up. Last summer, I had packed the old science texts and the drivers said I did a great job. Workbooks fly off the shelves, and boxes are finally unpacked and the clutter is slowly diminishing. I set up class sets of The Arrival, Immigrant Kids, and Abraham Lincoln's DNA and we hold them on a special shelf. I need to learn the CIS program since I'll be escorting students through the process this year in the blue computer lab next to my desk. I get an access code and spend some time going around the menu following the directions to what I need to give the students on advisory days so I'll know where they need to be. In the 'Occupation Sort' I find I can be a Librarian (huzzah!) or perhaps a Tatoo Artist (probably not). I start working with the Juniors on the 19th and they are a great bunch of kids. This day is fairly easy, and just a fact finding mission for them. So, all goes well. A few need to get their access numbers again, and a few ask questions. I will see them two more times this year for other aspects of the system.

I get two work with two of the greatest people at Sprague. Lisa Hardey, our Teacher Librarian and BJ James, the other Library Media Assistant. We each have interlocking personalities and skills that make the library run smoothly. BJ knows about every kid on the campus and is perfect for running the front desk. As kids go in and out, she has a handle on each one, what they're here for and makes sure they get passes stamped and sign in sheets completed. She schedules both computer labs and directs the classes to the appropriate 'green' or 'blue' section. Checking the books in and out, directing the student aides, keeping track of books on loan, she runs the front desk like the captain on the helm of the ship. Our real Captain is, of course, Lisa and her laughter rings across the library frequently making it one of the best places to be for students. She wants all the kids to feel welcome, and that the library is a great option for a place to hang out. She's quick with any request we have, and pitches in when something needs to get done. Her knowledge of our collection is amazing and a student just needs to give a hint of what a book's about, and she'll be 'Oh, that's such and such" and be off to help them find a copy or search the database. She also likes to teach students about how the library works and often I hear a "Now the fiction starts over there and is filed by author's last name" and can carry over to "Now, the non-fiction is all by number and if you need 808.14, see the signs around the room? Now let's find the 800's" She is truly a Teacher Librarian and takes delight in her world! I am truly blessed to work with these amazing people every day, they make it a joy to be there. That's about it, and I'm ready next time to start giving you the details of my world - I love my job!

Monday, September 29, 2008

4 Days - 8,000 Books

Opening Freshman day was easy for us. I worked on the A/B calendar that sits behind my desk and got it nearly done though it needed a few 'touch-ups' to please me. Since the Olympics had just ended and we are the 'Olympians' I went with a medal theme. Each class got its own gold medal, and medals for book awards for this year graced the sides of the board. Yes, I cut out each letter and number at home over Labor Day weekend with a little help from Melanie. The library got on the freshman 'tour' so we spent the day managing the textbook pickups. I had never done that before so teachers were telling us we could do more than I had planned and they were right. I ended up reworking the plan and emailing it out Tuesday night to have 16-20 classes come in every period for the next four days and it worked really well. Before I left on Tuesday, we had all the carts loaded with the texts for 1st and 2nd period, lined up in the center of the library and spent the days reloading, checking the list, condensing carts to free up other carts, we ran all four days. Teachers and students were patient and the few classes later in the days we hadn't gotten ready for pulled out carts and got their books while we were checking out other classes. We had some great volunteers come in and help us load carts, work on processing books and even help with checkouts from time to time. The next few days for the rest of the week were a bit easier (I had been coming in early to help and staying late to get ready for the next day) and I was down to about working my regular shift. Lots of kids individually coming by to get books for various reasons: 'I didn't have my card yesterday'; 'I just got into that class'; 'I picked up the wrong book, I really need XXX' and other assorted reasons. It was a good week to be busy, my brother-in-law had passed away very unexpectedly on the 1st and it wasn't possible for me to go down to L.A. for the funeral, so lots of work was good. The kids were gracious and the teachers were amazing. So, the tally after Monday the 8th was that we had checked out 8,363 texts in 4 days and by the end of that week, we were over 9,000. Not too shabby.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Before School Started

We start back to school a couple of weeks before students. Earlier this summer, I had worked on processing the new science adoption textbooks, and though most of them were done, (Biology – 450 texts; Physical Science/Earth Science and Chemistry – 300 texts each; and assorted other science books) there were still some left to do plus more books were starting to come in for other classes. Over the summer we still receive our magazine subscriptions and there were 3 boxes full of magazines to check in, process for library use and deliver requested copies to teachers.

For those of you unfamiliar with processing – here are the steps we take:

1. 1. Open the book up to break in the spine. Stand the book on its end (the spine) carefully opening front and back covers down to the table, take a section of pages from each end and open those down to the table and repeat until you reach the center. This is when I find manufacturing defects and can set those texts aside to be returned to the publisher.

2. 2. Stamp the books for Sprague. Top and bottom of page ends, inside the front cover and in the back.

3. 3. If I haven’t already set up the computer to print barcodes, I need to go in, set up a new Title and enter ISBN, publisher, author, title and price. Then I can go out and print barcodes and numbers for each text.

4. 4. Then we number each book, sharpie black on inside front cover, top and bottom of pages when the book is closed, and place a barcode inside the back cover. For texts that are heavily used we will cover the barcode with a plastic strip for preservation.

Soft cover books need contact paper covers as well as regular processing and that takes about 5-7 extra minutes a book (so, a set of 10 books about an hour, not to mention wrestling with rebellious contact paper!). I usually set up an assembly line on our workroom table and do about 8 books a set. Then the books are placed on the shelf and if necessary, other texts are moved to make room.

We also cleaned up books that had been brought in at the end of the year. Some of the old science texts needed to be withdrawn, other books were missing barcodes and needed to be checked against the system and re-entered. Teachers came in requesting materials and had to be checked out. We shipped out borrowed texts from other schools and requested others to be sent for the new semester. Cases of books to be checked in, making sure each invoice matched. 8 boxes of Russian books left with a sign to be ‘stored’ – we don’t have room! So we tracked down that they were to be sent to surplus. E-mails coming in from teachers on the status of books were all read and responded to. Books brought in over the summer (3 full carts worth) all put away. Renumbering shelves for the books that had sat up on top of bookcases all summer, adding books into the ‘repair’ hospital. And I’m sure there were more things we accomplished that I’ve forgotten about!

I also began compiling a list for teachers to bring in their students to pick up texts. That way, we could have the books out, on carts, waiting for each class to come in when students start September 3rd (the 2nd was only for freshman).

Our Teacher Librarian, Mrs. Hardey, decided to repaint the library and we got in the new paint, blues and greens, so when we were finished for the day, we ‘volunteer’ our time, haul out the paint and work on painting the library. We hoped to be done before school opened, but didn’t quite make it. School was ready to begin!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome to The View from the Textbook Window

My name is Debbie and I'm one of the Library Media Assistants at Sprague High School. As the days page by, I hope to keep you up to date on the daily life of a high school textbook librarian. We have approximately 1,800 students here at Sprague, and they all need textbooks. My desk sits in the northern most area of the library, on the right hand side. Just past that last set of tall library shelves on the right is the door to the textbook depository where we keep all the classroom texts. I have a roll up window I push up at the start of my day so students can access texts from not only our main library, but from the outside hall as well. Thank you for reading my blog, get your student I.D. card ready, and check it out!