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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

RA at the Elementary School Level

Today is a very busy day in the world of RA.  Not only is today is the beginning of the newest RUSA CODES two day email conversation, but I am also about to head out the door to attend Duncan Smith's RA lecture at RAILS. [Links lead to details for each event].

Because one can never pack too much RA into one day, I also spent 3 hours this morning volunteering at my son's elementary school library.  I volunteer there twice a month. The LRC Director, Kelly Davis, mostly uses me to help catalog the books as they come in, but, because of my RA experience and her recent course work as she acquired her MLS, we have had many conversations about breaking up the library's collection to make it easier for the kids to browse and find the books they want to read for fun.

While I was there today, I took a few pictures of some of the newer displays she instituted this past year.  Below you will find 2 nooks that had gone unused in the past. She created a new book area with one and a special section for the Rebecca Caudill titles in the other.  Both have prime real estate in the library as they flank the main door.  A parent took the old books and cut them into those eye catching letters.

The next two photos show how she took highlighting the Caudill titles a step further. The first photo shows how she took pictures of the covers and laminated them next to reviews-- reviews that were written by last year's graduating 6th graders to be displayed for this year's students.  The second picture is a closeup of 2 of them. As you can see, some of the titles do not have these reviews as this was a trial last year.  She is already hard at work getting all the books reviewed for next year though.

All of these displays Kelly created had a huge impact on the circulation of leisure reading materials in the school library.  She also worked to create a smaller browsing collection for Nonfiction that is targeted to the K-2 audience (It's a K-6 school).  This works like a display for younger kids who are more intimidated by the larger nonfiction stacks, stacks which contain many more titles that are above their level than at their level. This has increased the circulation of nonfiction for leisure reading for the younger kids, which we hope will lead to them continuing to seek it out in the larger stacks as they get older.

As both a parent and a RA librarian, I am very proud of how Kelly has taken some of the more traditional public library display concepts to promote leisure reading for the kids. She already did a great job supporting the curriculum, but she also feels strongly about instilling a love of reading in the kids. She's got them for a nice long stretch of time. They come once a week to check out 2 "fun" books each, so why not make the space where they can discover titles in a more fun, eye catching, easier to browse way and broken up into categories that they most want to see.

I know I don't traditionally talk about school libraries on the blog, but it is an area I will be exploring more once I leave the BPL next month, so I figured I would start with one I have a connection with first.

If you want to share your great school library RA work, leave a link in the comments.

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