Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scratch and Sniff!

This summer at ALA, I bought a package of popcorn-scented scratch and sniff bookmarks from Upstart. They were a BIG hit with the kids, so I have since ordered several different scents for the kids. (Not pictured: popcorn, candy canes, or s'mores.)

Upstart is merging with Demco in December, so beginning then you can order these great, super fun, uber popular bookmarks from Demco. They're $6.95/100 bookmarks, but if you order 10 or more, the price drops to $6.50 each. They have 28 different scents to choose from... which is the hardest part of doing the order.

I have to say... these scratch and sniff bookmarks take me right back to childhood. I LOVED scratch and sniff stickers when I was a kid. (We were members of a Sticker Club at a store in the Clearwater Mall, and I would get really excited if the sticker of the month was a scratch and sniff!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come...

Some days I go home and collapse. When I update these charts with our patron usage data and circulation statistics, I realize why.

When  my co-librarian (and library soul mate) Alden and I were hired in 2007, we didn't inherit organized patron usage data from our predecessors. They did have the students sign in when they visited the library, but it was all by hand; when we started, we just didn't have the time to crunch the numbers from the prior school year's sign in sheets.  Shortly after we began, we purchased a computer program called Preston from a local software developer that runs on a touchscreen monitor. Students sign in to the library by entering their name and reason for visiting; I have access to a password-protected website where I can pull up the data, which I enter into Excel to create these pretty charts. [Side Note: this data only includes individual student visits to the library; it does not include any whole class visits. So our actual patron usage is much higher than this.] Occasionally I email the charts to my administrators. I have also been known to chase them down around school and force them to "ooh" and "ahh" over them.

Circulation in our library has also steadily risen each year. Sometimes I look at this data and can't believe it's real.  But when I look at it with the patron usage data, I have to believe that we're able to draw more and more students into the library each year, which helps increase our circulation. 

This past summer I did a major weed of the collection, which allowed me to eliminate 2 bookshelves and rearrange the library space. Thanks to Gaylord, I acquired a new (3rd) study table for the kids to use (now I want a 4th!), so the kids have even more room to sit and use the library.  I believe this has been the reason for the increase (already!) in both patron usage and circulation.  If you build it, they will come.

We do have circulation data from the year before Alden and I were hired (see the navy blue line on this graph). We were thrilled at the end of our first year that we were able to increase circulation as much as we did.  We attributed the increase to the creation of a small collection of graphic novels and purchasing books that the children requested.  At the end of our first year, we created a Young Adult fiction section for the middle school and high school students. Again we saw an increase in circulation.

I attribute the increase in each subsequent year to purchasing new materials that the kids like and maintaining an environment where the kids feel welcome and respected. I also try to keep it fresh and new in the library; every year I change things, add things... buy new furniture or hang new decorations... keeping things lively and "new" brings the kids in more and more. Again... if you build it, they will come.

I dream of the day when we go under construction and expand the library.  It would be such a dream to have more computers and more study space for our students.  But until then, I will just rearrange, add, change, and keep things fresh so the kids will enjoy it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Look Who's #3!!

The new rankings from U.S. News and World Report are out!  And FSU's school library media program is #3 in the country!  So proud to be a graduate of such a magnificent program!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's National Picture Book Month!

Just sent this Smore newsletter to my elementary teachers promoting National Picture Book Month.  Smore is a great, FREE Web 2.0 resource that allows you to create attractive, online newsletters & flyers that can be emailed, posted to Facebook or Twitter, or embedded in websites.  It's so easy - this one took me less than 15 minutes to create.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (Part 2)

While I was talking with Jon Moretti, awesome Gaylord salesman, we sat at a beautiful circulation desk they had brought to the ALA conference with them.  Check it out:

Isn't that BEAUTIFUL? I kept telling Jon how gorgeous the circ desk was and how much I disliked the one we had because it was too difficult for all three of us to work behind it at the same time.  He told me he could cut me a deal on one that they had in their warehouse - it was the same style as the one they brought to ALA, but had a different color countertop.  Before they had the green desk, they used to take this other desk to the conferences with them, and now they just needed to sell it.  I was more than happy to help them get it out of their warehouse.  They also gave me a great deal on a study table & chairs and a mobile book display unit with slatwalls.

Check out the monumental difference between our old desk and our new one in these before and after pictures:

View from the front door
View from the back corner
View from the front corner (looking at the touchscreen sign-in and the book drop)

Meeting with vendors face-to-face is one of the many important reasons why librarians should attend conferences - local, state, or national.  There were more than 1,500 vendors in the ALA Exhibit Hall, including many vendors I had never had the chance to meet with before.  Salespeople can offer you discounts that you can't get by ordering on the website or calling the 800 number. I would never have gotten the discount on the new mobile shelving if I had called the 800 number or ordered it online. And I certainly would never have had the opportunity to buy this circ desk at a fabulous price (that I could afford), if I hadn't talked to the sales rep face-to-face.

Successful librarians build relationships with their patrons. However, it's easy to forget that we also need to spend time building relationships with vendors who can provide us with the latest & greatest technologies, furniture, and supplies to make our libraries the best they can be.

I will admit that I have, on occasion, blown off a vendor who called me or showed up at school unannounced.  I do have some favorite vendors who I turn to regularly for books, supplies, and furniture.  And I also refuse to purchase things from a few vendors who gave me bad service in the past.  [Side note: one book vendor, who is extremely popular with librarians, doesn't get a dime of my budget because of terrible customer service and many wrong book orders.]  So I understand when librarians order from the same companies time and again.

I can speak from experience when I say that meeting with vendors face-to-face, talking to them honestly, and being open to new ideas, new products, and new ways of doing things can pay off in big ways.

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (Part 1)

Our school library is small. We have 1700 students in grades K-12, and we have over 20,000 books in our collection. I wish we had more computers and more study tables for the students, but we don't really have enough room for more of either of those things.

I have been hoping that the funding would come through to expand the library, but with budget times as tough as they are, it seems it will be a while before that happens.  So this summer, I decided to make the best of the space we have.

In order to do this, I knew it was going to take: 1) a major weeding of the collection; and 2) new shelving (which was going to cost me some serious money).  It took me 2 full weeks to weed the non-fiction collection, with the help of my trusty library assistant, her daughters, and 2 awesome high school students. (I still have more weeding to do, but I got a great start this summer.)

Then I met with all the library furniture vendors that I met at the American Library Association Annual Conference (ALA) in the exhibit hall.  There are many great library furniture companies making beautiful shelving at affordable prices.  I decided to purchase 42" mobile shelving in a medium oak finish (to match my existing shelving) from Gaylord. If you need shelving or any library furniture, I highly recommend that you talk to Jon Moretti at Gaylord. He is helpful, nice, and will get you a great price.  What I liked most about Gaylord's mobile shelving is that the casters are attached to a metal frame instead of the wood itself.  They're really well-made.

The best thing about our new shelving is that I can now monitor the entire library from anywhere I am in the library. Our old shelves were over 7' tall; our new shelves are 42".  As one 4th grader said: "The kids can't hide behind the shelves anymore! Now they're going to have to act mature!"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hot Seats!

One of the stools in the Library broke recently, and I needed to replace it. When shopping online at my usual library supply haunts, I discovered that these tractor seat stools were way cuter and way cheaper than their ugly, typical, boring stool cousins.  So voila! For $60 each from Demco, we've got some hot new seats. I can't wait for the kids to see them on Monday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Choose This!

Woodville Elementary School has an amazing school librarian, but not an amazing book budget.

My friend Melissa Ingram is the school librarian at Woodville Elementary School in Tallahassee, FL. 81% of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. She has a small budget to purchase books for the school library, and she would like to purchase copies of the Sunshine State Young Reader's Award books so that her students can participate in the statewide reading program.

Melissa is quite the go-getter, and has set up a project request on to raise the funds to pay for the Sunshine State books so her students can vote for their favorite with the other elementary students in Florida.

I can't tell you how excited the students are to read these books and then vote for their favorite. Don't you want to be a part of that joy?

Please consider donating to her project.  Or better yet, go ahead and donate to her project

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs...

After rearranging and reorganizing the books and the sections of the library this summer, I wanted to install new signage in the library.  In the past, I always printed our signs myself, but I wanted the new signage to look really professional and sophisticated.

So I called my friend Kim Williams, owner of The Polka Dot Press, and designer extraordinaire.  She runs a wonderful store in Tallahassee where you can pick up beautiful gifts and custom items, but you can also call her to order and she'll ship to you.  Check out her blog for great ideas - I've stolen quite a few of her ideas for the library (evidence can be found here).

Kim designed, printed, and laminated all of these Dewey signs and shelf labels for me for a very reasonable price.  I gave her a list of the signs I needed, told her I like bright colors & the chevron pattern, and said I wanted them to be fun but sophisticated.  She had them ready for pick up within a week of ordering them, too!  I bought the frames on sale at Hobby Lobby, and voila!

Something's Fishy in the Library

Meet the newest member of the FSUS Library team!  His name is... um, well, we don't know yet.

This boy betta needs a name... so of course I'm letting the kids name him!  We've taken name nominations, and this week the students will vote to choose his name.  Some suggestions have been: Red Feather, Bob, and Sushi.  I'll keep you posted.

On our fish's first day in the library, a 3rd grade boy proclaimed, "FINALLY we got a REAL fish in this library!"  I'm not sure why this "finally" happened or what un-"real" fish we already had in the library, but I'm glad I could make the kids happy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What are you reading?

My students often ask me what I've read lately, and I enjoy talking to them about great books. I wanted to find a way I could visually represent what I've been reading, including a short book review (on the word caption die cut), but I didn't want it to take up too much space.  My library is small, and space is at a premium. So I created these little signs out of scrapbook paper and put them in the window of my office in the library.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Letters Were Hung in the Library with Care...

So I've been up to no good once again... I've stolen yet another idea to use in the library! This time my inspiration came from my friend Kim Williams, owner of The Polka Dot Press.

I bought a variety of wooden letters from Hobby Lobby and Michael's (using coupons and teacher discounts, of course!). Dad painted them for us, and then Mom and I mod podged and glued our fingers raw. 

Look closely and see if you can find any hidden words in the letters. We spelled out 3 words - things that students do in the library (and in school).  I'll give you a hint: the letters of each word are designed with similar characteristics. And then Dad suggested we spell out another word - something we have 18,000 of in the library. :)

Tweet! Tweet! (Bulletin Boards, Part 2)

I was uber lucky to have help this summer from two of my fave teenagers, Mac and Elena, who are high school students (though not at my high school). In exchange for soda, chips, and some community service hours, they helped me with a variety of projects in the library, including creating this awesome bulletin board.

I told them I wanted to put up a bulletin board over the students' printer where I could post announcements for the students.  They asked if they could collage it. I said sure!  I mentioned the announcements would be short, like Tweets, and they ran with it.

And here's the awesome end result!

Read Me Maybe? (Bulletin Boards, Part 1)

I had already decided what I would put on the library's bulletin boards this year when I found this amazing idea while trolling Pinterest... 

So I scrapped my original plan, and proceeded to steal copy use this idea as inspiration for my own version of the Read Me Maybe bulletin board.  Thanks to, I whipped up some QR codes for 4 of our Florida Teens Read books, and voila!  Scanning the QR codes on a Smartphone (or tablet) takes readers to the book's trailer on

If you need help creating QR codes, hop on over to my pal Gwyneth Jones' Daring Librarian blog for the 411. (And if you're not already following her blog, do it! What are you waiting for? She's awesome!)


Thursday, July 19, 2012

#summerthrowdown #teamlibrarian

So I just did something SO COOL. Or maybe SO CRAZY. I signed up on #teamlibrarian (aka League of Librarians) for the #summerthrowdown.

A team of teachers and a team of librarians are competing to see who can read more books in one month. Round 1 just ended the other day.  I didn't participate in Round 1 because I was uber busy with teaching the course at FSU, traveling, and helping develop a new course at FSU.

Round 2 begins on Sunday. My summer is no less busy now, but I just couldn't bear to miss another round of this super cool challenge.  And frankly, I should be reading at least a book a day for Sunshine State Young Reader's Award Committee, so maybe this will help me with that as well.  Plus, they have shirts.

If you would like to participate, sign up HERE.  But first, you should check out all the rules HERE on the Library Fanatic's awesome blog.  Happy Reading!

(P.S. Hey #teamteachers, it's on like Donkey Kong!)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Read: Fake Mustache

It has been quite a while since I posted on the blog... I could blame it on traveling to ALA and being just plain busy in general, but those aren't good excuses. I will get a post up about my awesome adventures in Anaheim at ALA, but for now this little "Friday Reads" post will have to suffice.

I'm excited to read Fake Mustache for a few reasons:
1. I love love love Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series. They're funny, and have something in them for the kids and adults alike. As teachers and school librarians, we KNOW these characters in the series because at one point or another, we've TAUGHT these characters. And the characters are so real. The kids in the book talk and act like kids.
2. I got an ARC of Fake Mustache from a school librarian friend last spring, but passed it on to a student at school who has a slight obsession with mustaches. She loved the book. But I didn't read it before I passed it on.
3. I saw Tom Angeleberger at ALA in Anaheim but wasn't able to get my book signed because his line, like Mo Willem's line and many others', was superrrrr long. So I cruised by to catch a glimpse of him, but that's all. It's always exciting to meet/see an author whose books you love. (See forthcoming post about meeting Sharon Creech.)
Happy Friday Reading, Friends!

Friday, April 6, 2012

And the winner is..........

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! It was a tough tournament, and just like the NCAA basketball tournament, there were some surprises and upsets.

The students and teachers loved it, and we will definitely hold another March Madness Book Tournament next year!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Puppy Pillows

While I was reading 350+ books for Sunshine State Young Reader's Award Committee, my bestest friend Tally was doing her part to help. And by help, I mean sleeping on piles of books.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Madness in the FSUS Library

I have wanted to do a March Madness Book Tournament for 5 years!

With the help of some of the sophomores, we created the list of 16 books for the tournament. These are books that are all-around popular, or that they enjoyed reading in their middle school and high school English classes.  The students did the seeding on the bracket, and then I painted the bracket on the windows of my office.

Middle school and high school students will vote for their favorite books on the bracket. Voting in Round 1 started today and continues through tomorrow. Round 2 will take place Thursday & Friday, Round 3 will be next Monday & Tuesday, and the final round will be next Wednesday & Thursday.  We'll announce the winning book on Friday, April 6 on the school's morning news show (and here, of course!)  I can't wait to see which book wins!
Photo of March Madness Round 1 Ballot

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Problem: I promised to teach a kindergarten class today, but I got sick last week and have lost my voice!
Solution: Justin Bieber!  (Bet you weren't expecting that!)  Thank goodness for my amazing library assistant, who knew of this video of Justin reading The Cat in the Hat.  For 8 minutes, 18 kindergarteners were mesmerized.

The kids loved it so much, we decided to watch this next video as well. (Apologies to all FSU fans. If it makes you feel any better, the kids didn't really know who he was....)

After that, we checked out books, went on a Cool Bear Hunt, and did a little Tooty Ta dance and laughed ourselves silly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's been 2 months since I posted on this blog. It's ridiculous! Here's what I've been up to since then...

... I helped the sophomore class sell 1300 candy canes as a fundraiser...

 ... I was voted Elementary Teacher of the Year for my school...
... and I have been acting as Mailperson for Skoob, our Library's Shelf Elf...
*3rd grader's name has been hidden :)

...which sometimes leaves me speechless!