In my first two years in the library at Brookswood, I have focused my time on the physical space. This involved many hours of weeding old books from the shelves, boxed up the VHS tape collection, working with painters, carpet layers, carpenters and electricians to breathe some life into the infrastructure of the library. Although this was drastically needed after years of neglect, merely changing a paint colour and rearranging some shelving to create more student space is not going to invigorate a library program that had stagnated.
As I identified in my last post, my next focus is on developing a library orientation to equip our students to take advantage of the resources that the library offers and a library website to make these resources available to students no matter where they are located. The last student library orientation took place eight years ago, meaning that none of the 1200 grade 8 to 12 students in my school have ever been shown what the library has to offer besides tables to work at and computers to work on.
Developing a Library Orientation
As I began my research on how to design a high school library orientation I found a number of websites, articles, and videos that describe how to create an engaging and informative orientation, Here are the key resources I found:
by Anita Brooks Kirkland Chair of Canadian School Libraries writing for Libraries and Learning
This website presents the idea of taking advantage of videos and online tutorials to capture all the low-level instructions that are usually given in a library orientation so that more time is available for more collaborative work with the students. Here is a YouTube video from the site:
What I like about this is it ties into my second project of building a website for the library. This would provide a host site for my orientation content and ensure it is always there for students to refer to, instead of depending on students being able to remember everything that was covered in a two-class orientation at the start of the year.
by Rachel Fidock for SLAV Connects, a website of the School Library Association of Victoria (Australia)
This website contains a number of ideas for games and activities to allow the students to discover the various resources of the library in a fun interactive way. I see this as a way to engage the students and avoid having a class of grade 8s sit through a powerpoint presentation where their main activity is taking notes!
Emery, Allison, “School library orientation: Introducing teachers to the roles and services of teacher librarians” (2008). Graduate Research Papers.
Something I never thought of: Doing a library orientation for teachers as well as students! This resonated with me as approximately one-third of my 65 member teaching staff has only been in the building three years or less and with a number of them being new to the profession, they do not know all that a teacher-librarian has to offer them. This has opened a whole new strategy to my plan on how to create an effective library program at my school.
Goldman, et al, Creating an Engaging Library Orientation, Communications in Information Literacy, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2016
This article actually describes a proposed library orientation for first-year courses at the University of California in San Diego but has many ideas that transfer to the high school library program. One of the ideas presented was library scavenger hunt using QR codes that the students would find and then use to answer questions. One of the other ideas that I really liked was having students create a PSA about part of the library either by creating a movie about their favorite part of the library, creating a poster/collage of a library service or writing a poem that describes a library feature. I think the video idea would work well with the students in our one to one iPad program while the poem idea may work well with an English class if they are doing their poetry unit. It would make the orientation seem like more a part of their class.
Designing a Learning Commons Website
I also spent some time this week adding to my collection of good examples of high school library websites. These are some of the sites I will use as inspirations when I build my own:
Walnut Grove Secondary Library
Right in my own district! This site has an attractive layout and easy to find links to online databases, student and teacher resources, new books and a whole lot more.
The Learning Commons at Elgin Park
Again an attractive layout and an easy to navigate selection of links to student and staff resources.
Learning Commons at South Delta
An interesting feature of this school is they offer a credit course for students called Library 11 which is a blend of hands-on work in the library and learning about library skills.
The Beak @ MEI
This library site has an attractive engaging layout and a good social media presence with a Facebook and Pinterest site.