THE LIBRARY TRULY IS THE HEART OF ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT. Or should be. It is time for it to take its rightful place as the hub of learning. We really need to rethink school libraries, add shelving consistency, and seek out remedies and redesigns that will allow libraries to better serve students and teachers and really connect to technologies.
According to Mark Ray (2016) connecting a library as a 21st-century information specialist must teach digital citizenship, information literacy, AND inspire spaces for students to create and produce using their own ingenuity and critical thinking.
Today’s libraries boast Genius Bars, Maker Spaces, Test Kitchens, Lego Robotics and Sewing Factories with fabric and product to play with. They host comfort plus: cozy seating, interesting cubbies, bistro tables, and hand-on learning activities. But they must also be about the rich literature that fills its shelves. When libraries focus in, zoom in, on creating a rich library experience, reading and use will improve as well.
Yes, today’s library leaders need to be willing to address problems and spearhead change for K-6, K-12 libraries today, Library Specialists need to move students from the doldrums to a well-organized excitement both on-site and online. It needs to reorganize by series, challenge known practices, merge mindsets, embrace bookstore modeling, and build a curriculum that will fully engage and inspire young learners to consume more books and do more.
The first step is to weed your library of old, outdated titles
Weed out the old and address the new, faster-changing areas like technology, science, and shift titles during this process that will better tie into curriculum programs—but do this for ELA titles and shared reads as well. Bringing in award-winning titles and using the flavoring in the writing to target skills being taught will double, even triple, curriculum efforts.
Genrify/categorize your collection based on series based on publisher designations
Then add a few more categories to amp up engagement
Create a Hybrid-Dewey model that simplifies shelving
Use a Three-Digit Series-Focused Dewey Numbering system and surprise yourself. Zoom in on Dewey areas that tie into the curriculum and drop all but the first three numbers and round them off to tens. Then honor series. Now, your nonfiction sections become instantly more promotional. You have the 000 Unexplained, 150 Friendship, 290 Myths & Legends, 520 Space, 570 Habitats, 590 Animals, 600 Technology + Inventions that draw readings into areas that may interest them most.
Take full advantage of the library and create student flow
Nonfiction begins with the best of the best Real Story Nonfiction and Biographies and weaves around the rooms to move towards your traditional Dewey: 000-990 Info Nonfiction.
When you shift to the three-digit Dewey, you allow kids to discover topics on the shelf like 610 Emergency or 620 Cool-Rides or 600 From An Idea, or 600 Inventors, or 520 Exploring Space. It becomes promotional for and about the reading and promotes, not just one book, but 6 or 8 or 20-something books.
Imagine that kid who sees a whole bookstore display called World of Dinosaurs. S/he/they may be more apt to want to read, not just one book, but look forward to reading the whole series. Goal met. Now every category discloses topics and themes, offers more than one book to read and inspires excitement. Readers might challenge themselves to read in gamer mode: Read 5 and they move to the next level.
Let your Dewey sections report call numbers by series, by topics, and inspire curiosity
Our 590 Animal section serves up book series labeled 590 Adaptation, 590 Afraid of Water, 590 Amazing Animals,590 Amphibians, 590 Attacks, 590 Babies, 590 Detectives, 590 Diaries, 590 Danger, 590 Loudmouths, 590 Safari, 590 No Backbone, and 590 Soldiers. Once you shift to this 3-digit series labeling, you now have instant marketing enticement for readers.
But we must do more now that we are facing reading deficits. Much more.
Librarians may truly partner with teachers and lean into Reading intervention practices.
For younger readers, set up stations that support improved reading.
For older readers, set up challenges.
There are just so many ways to help improve reading—and leaning into tech helps. It makes all these challenges sharable.
As a school library specialist, take charge of the library and inspire good reading. Lead. Begin with weeding. Then, shift to this Hybrid Dewey system that focuses on Series and simplifies your call numbers to three-digit that promote the best of the best books you offer. Once complete, you will enjoy the beautiful organization that comes from this and it will be a gift. When organized by series, categorize similar to a bookstore model, and inspire young learners to consume more books, and improve reading school-wide.
Ray, M. (2017). “Changing the Conversation About Librarians” [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IniFUB7worY.