Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Meeting Your Patrons Where They Are

By:  Christa Cordrey, Librarian at Pearl Cohn High School

One of my goals at Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School this year was to really find a way to reach as many students as possible. I don’t want to hide away in my library and wait for students and teachers to come to me – I want to reach them where they are! I could see right away that hardest group to reach was going to be the freshmen. The way their schedule came together, the freshmen didn’t really have any set time(s) where they could come to the library! I just couldn’t stand the possibility of good readers falling away because of lack of access. So, once per week, I do Library @ Lunch for the Freshmen Academy!

The Library @ Lunch program is super simple. All I do is load up a cart of books, movies, etc. and take it down to the lunch room during the freshmen lunch time. I bring along a laptop with my circulation system pulled up and – instant checkout station! On days when I have a student worker during that period, I take her down to the cafeteria with me. While she handles the checkout station, I roam around the cafeteria and encourage checkouts/returns as well as talk to students about what they are reading and watching. After the first week, I was able to get a better idea of what students enjoyed reading/watching, and now I am able to customize the cart a little better. It wasn’t an instant hit, but any access is better than no access. I usually average between 15-20 transactions during the 30 minute lunch period, though some days are better than others.

As I move into the future, I now have teachers asking if I can do the same things for their classrooms. They want me to pack up part of the library and bring it to them on a regular basis, so that they don’t have to make transitions across the building. And you know what? I think I would be happy to do that… because I truly believe today’s libraries aren’t about “space” but about meeting needs at the point of need… meeting the patrons where they are!

Blogger:  Christa Cordrey @LibrarianC1
Pearl Cohn High School
Technology Chair, TN Association of School Librarians

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hunters Lane- Live in the Library Program

By:  Todd Duncan, Librarian @ Hunters Lane High School

Several years ago, after participating in the annual talent show we have here at Hunters Lane (Put on by the Choral Director), it occurred to me that it would be really cool if we could showcase the talent of students and faculty on a more regular basis.  In past years, I had seen many students who could sing, dance, act, rap, and play a multitude of musical instruments.  I also knew that we had a richly diverse and talented faculty.  To facilitate and showcase all this talent, Live in the Library was created.

It was determined that we would hold a live talent show, once a month, in the library during One Lunch.  Our entire school goes to lunch every day from 10:05-11:45 at which time students are allowed to participate in school clubs, eat lunch, receive academic help from their teachers or go to the library to read, do research or socialize with their peers.  We have a large open space in the center of the Hunters Lane library that was perfect for holding our talent show. 

Live in the Library was an instant hit.  Every month, we had our Principal announce a call for those interested in auditioning.  The response was huge.  Both kids and faculty were enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to perform. 

The idea behind Live in the Library was inclusive, rather than restrictive.  We didn’t want to include only those who were the very best at what they did, but also those who just wanted a chance to get in front of an audience and perform.  For many students, this was a way for them to overcome their fear of public speaking. 

Through the last several years, a diverse group of students and faculty have performed in Live in the Library.  As a musician, I’ve had the opportunity to play blues guitar with one of our Campus Police Officers who sings the blues like B.B. King.  That was a blast and the kids loved it. Examples of some of our other performers include a teacher who did amazing yo-yo tricks (he’s the President of the Nashville Yo-Yo Association), husband and wife faculty members who are expert scuba divers and gave a presentation on diving all over the world, students who have played instrumentals on piano and guitar, and even a young lady who played ukulele and sang several songs. We have hosted a number of performances with students and faculty singing to tracks as well.

Thanks to our Principal, Dr. Susan Kessler, all of this is regularly posted on the school Facebook page and receives a great deal of exposure.  

Live in the Library has been a great thing for a number of reasons.  Kids love to support their friends as they perform their favorite songs.  They also love to see their teachers in a different light---singing, dancing and just having a good time.  A powerful sense of comradery is created between students and faculty when they have fun together.  Live in the Library is also great because it helps students overcome their fears and feel good about themselves.  

In addition, this new program brings kids into the Library who might not show up otherwise.  They get to know the library staff and many take advantage of the free guitar and piano lessons we provide during one lunch as well as finding out about our Writer’s Club and Battle of the Books team.  

We realize that having one lunch makes it possible for us to do Live in the Library, but even schools with regular lunch schedules can do their own version of this program with a little creative programming (once a month evening performance or after school in the afternoon;  have a performance quarterly, etc.).

In any event, Live in the Library has been great for Hunters Lane, and you don’t have to be a musician, or sing or dance to do it.  If you’re interested in putting something together like what we do at Hunters Lane, we will be glad to help you!  Just send us an email.  Thanks so much! 

Blogger: Todd Duncan @tgrantduncan
Hunters Lane HS @hunterslanehigh