“But you’re not going to get rid of the cards, are you?”
By Susan Jacoby, Atrium Librarian
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” the old saying goes. And the photo above truly embodies that truth.
As we began the process of thinking about automating our libraries nearly two years ago, more than one person plaintively said to me, “But you’re not going to get rid of the cards, are you?” As the automation committee met, researched, and evaluated the various options available to us -- thanks to the generous support of our community at the 2015 auction a crucial question emerged:
How can we improve and streamline access to our many wonderful books, while at the same time preserving what is precious and valued by children and adults alike, in our current system?
In the spring of 2016 we made our decision and were thrilled to purchase our new digital cataloging system, called “L4U.” But even as we attended on-line training sessions and eagerly began to catalog our first books (starting with the Middle School Annex), our minds were churning about how best to implement the system school-wide.
Drop into the upstairs (PreK-Grade 5) Atrium Library on any given day, and here are some of the things you will see and hear:
“I can do it myself!” a proud Originator (PreK student) says, printing her name carefully on the next blank line of the library card, then carefully slipping her new Mo Willems book into her library bag.
A group of second graders runs over to me, giggling wildly, holding the card of a biography of Harriet Tubman, used for Explorer Heroism Studies. “Look!” they point, “It says Jill, Jill, Jill, Jill, Jill!!”
“Look, my sister had this out when she was my age,” a third grader says to his friend, as they examine the card in a Captain Underpants book.
A fifth grader reads the “teaser” of Artemis Fowl, trying to decide if he should check it out, then notices a name on the card. “Hey!” he calls to a friend, “Do you think I’d like this?”
Just as there is something special (and, some scientists say, beneficial) about the tactile experience of a physical book, so there is something unique in this equally tactile experience of the list of wobbly, penciled names (growing more legible grade by grade) on the card in its card pocket.
With this in mind, we made the decision to retain the cards in our Main (PreK-Grade 5) library; once all the books are digitized, there will simply be a small, extra step for our volunteers of scanning the barcode before filing away the card as we do now (which will give us the wonderful ability of easily knowing who has which books out!)
Downstairs in the Middle School Annex, with all the books digitized, students and faculty are already able to conduct computer searches by author, title, subject and keyword. And as of the beginning of March, we will roll out an all-digital system! Cards and card pockets will be gone, and students, with the help of the student library committee, will scan their own books in and out. To us, this shift feels developmentally appropriate, as middle school students may sometimes wish to enjoy a bit more privacy around their book choices. For them, there will ultimately be other ways to share, such as on-line peer book reviews.
Upstairs in the main library, biographies have just come online, in time for second graders to search for books on their heroes! We are now steadily working our way through chapter book fiction and the non-fiction shelves. Here is where YOU come in! Many folks in the Atrium community have been asking how they can help, which is tremendous because…
...Your Atrium Library Needs You!
By Jamie Siglar, Parent Volunteer
The Atrium Library has a number of simple tasks that could use your help. I've grouped these tasks by how much time they're likely to take.
Card processing: This involves taking the cards from the checkout box, making sure that the checkout date is entered on the card, and the card is filed in the "check-out" file.
Check-in books: This involves taking the books from the "check-in" bin, finding their card in the "check-out" file and returning it to the card pocket, and putting the book on the top shelf of the rolling cart.
Shelving returned books: This involves taking the books from the top shelf of the rolling cart and returning them to their assigned shelf or basket.
Cleanup: The library gets used all the time, and therefore things end up out of place. This involves walking around the room, collecting any books left on tables and floors and putting them on the rolling cart, returning pens to their cups, pencils and card files to the table by the door, etc.
Culling damaged books: This involves going through a section of the library and placing damaged books in a bin for evaluation (as to repair or replacement).
Labeling cataloged books: We are automating the library! We have completed cataloging the Biographies in the main library, and are in the process of cataloging fiction chapter books. All of these need to have bar code labels affixed to their card pockets for our library of the future.
Cataloging a basket: This involves taking ownership of a basket, and, over the rest of the school year, cataloging that basket; you will need to bring your own laptop. Susan, Laurie and I will happily train you; if anyone wants to train as a group, let me know and I'll put together a class. If you have 30 minutes once a week, during this semester you could catalog a basket of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Wings of Fire or Mo Willems' books and help us complete our catalog. There are 73 baskets -- any help would be appreciated.
May-June: Searching for mis-shelved books. This involves getting a list from Susan of books whose cards are still filed but have been returned to the library. These books are usually shelved without a card, and in the wrong section (e.g, basket series in with chapter books, early readers with picture books, etc.).
Repairing Damaged Books: Many books with torn covers or broken spines are fixable with a little TLC. Susan and Laurie will happily train you to fix these books.
Processing new books: Susan and Laurie will happily train you to help us add new (to us) books to the library.
These tasks will all take place in the Main Library (the Ginny Kahn Library, opposite the Trailblazer Classroom). The Middle School Library Annex — operated by the Middle School Library Committee — is already fully cataloged and on the way to having their own computerized check-in/check-out system!