Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nesting, like a hamster

I've been a very busy little hamster in the library, moving things around, finding homes for things, getting rid of stuff the library no longer needs.  I wish I had taken better before photos but it didn't occur to me.  I just started straightening shelves and it turned into a major re-org of the non-fiction section.

This is a picture of the Biography section after I weeded and straightened it.  There were a lot of 920's over here as well so I moved them back to their Dewey neighborhood in non-fiction. That's why you see a few empty shelves here.

 Before I straightened this area it looked a little bit like this:

This is the Spanish language section.  Unlike the biographies, the books in the Spanish section do not have proper spine labels.  Fiction, non-fiction, and picture books alike all have just the first letter of the author's last name on a bright orange spine label.

Anyway, back to non-fiction.  I wish I'd taken pictures but oh well.  Most of the shelves were only half full so the books would slide and flop over a lot and they looked very messy.  I did some weeding and then shifted all the books forward and filled in the gaps on the shelves and I opened up enough shelf space to move the biographies to the last row of shelves in nonfiction which leaves me with this:
Wow!  Look at all that open space!  My next plan of attack is the Spanish section which is not pictured here but is just to the left of what you see here.  I'm going to put proper spine labels on all these books and then create a Spanish fiction section, and a Spanish non-fiction section.  This will still leave me room to create an 'emergent reader' section and a picture book section on this wall.  Moving those books over here will give me more space to integrate the 'easy fiction' back into regular fiction.  This way, we don't have any 'easy' reader sections.  All books are for everyone.

Speaking of fiction, here's a couple of pictures to show a little bit of before and after:
Before - all the books that belong to a series (nearly everything in kids and YA lit) were sitting on top of super full book shelves.  Also, the graphic novels were right next to the librarians desk so they could be watched.  I put them back on the 741.5 shelf.  Then I did some weeding.  There were (and still are) some really outdated titles on these shelves.

After - the tops of the shelves are clear!  Getting rid of titles that don't circulate made plenty of room for titles that do. (I still haven't got Harry Potter or Rick Riordan's books on the shelves yet, but I'm working on it!)

It's really gratifying to see all of this progress.

While this was going on at school, I picked up a book to read at home so I can catch up with middle school lit.  I finished it last week, it's called Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield.  This book really caught my attention and it's now one of my new favorites.  It's an alternate history of World War I and it follows two characters, a boy whose parents are murdered, and a girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can join the air force.  They are on opposite sides of the war but end up helping each other.  The really interesting part of the story is the technology.  The two warring factions are referred to as either Darwinists or Clankers.  The Darwinists use genetic modification to 'fabricate' new species of animals which are then used as war machines.  The Clankers use steampunk style mechanical machines.  Their tanks move on legs rather than treads.  The only thing I don't like about this book is that it is the first in a series but can't be read as a stand alone book.  If you want to know the whole story, you have to read the rest of the books.  So I'm on book 2 now.  Just like in book 1, it starts off with action and doesn't really let up.  Very exciting!

One last thing, I haven't given a knitting update in a while, never since I started at CMS.  I made this set of Dr. Seuss inspired beanies for my friends who had twins last October.
Have a good week and keep reading!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Lurlene McDaniel Odyssey

Being at the middle school is so different from my experience at the elementary school.  For one thing, my days are not packed with classes so I have lots of time to dig in to the collection and weed, weed, weed!  

A lot of books had already been pulled off the shelves, 'archived' in the system and then boxed up and stored in closets, as I mentioned in my previous post.  I've been slowly moving those out and it's been kind of a treasure hunt because now and then, I'll open up a box and find something like this:
Or books like these:
The illustrations in that copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin would make your eyes bleed.

There's still lots to pull out of the cabinets but I haven't been able to leave the shelves alone.  There are books sitting on top of the bookshelves because there is no room for them and it makes me feel all  twitchy.  So I've been weeding the shelves at the same time and working those superfluous volumes back into their proper place.  

While doing this, I came across this book:
That's Six Months To Live, by Lurlene McDaniel.  The cover was badly faded and the pages were yellowed and the spine was crackly.  It was published in 1995 and was part of a series that follows the main character Dawn Rochelle through various ordeals involving cancer.  Two other books by this author were also on the shelf; Too Young to Die and One Last Wish.  It occurred to me that Lurlene McDaniel has a strange fascination with dying teenagers.  

Then I suddenly became fascinated with Lurlene McDaniel.  I decided to read a bit of Six Months to Live to get a feel of what the story was like.  I read the first few pages and decided this was a book that I would never, ever read.  I had a laugh about it then tossed it in the weed box and went on with my day.

Later that day, when I was at home, I thought about the tragic Ms. McDaniel again and wondered what else she'd written and if these were just stand out novels for her.  So I looked her up on Wikipedia and saw her bibliography which I strongly encourage you to go and do now.  

If you don't want to go down that rabbit hole, here is a sampling:

Mother, Please Don't Die
Why Did She Have to Die?
Baby Alicia Is Dying
Don't Die, My Love
If I Should Die Before I Wake
Mother, Help Me Live

Seems a little grim, eh?  It turns out she was inspired to write as a way to deal with her son being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 3 years old.  

Going deeper into the rabbit hole, I went to and and started reading the reviews of Six Months to Live.  I don't know what I was expecting but it turns out that people love this book.  Over and over, people wrote about how they'd read this book as an adolescent and it helped them through a rough time. People love Lurlene McDaniel's books.  

Every writer has a reader.

But the story doesn't end here.  Yesterday, I had a student come to the library and she asked me if I had any 'sad books.'  I asked a couple questions to find out what kind of sad books she wanted and she wanted something about someone dying.  Of course, Lurlene McDaniel popped right into my head but I'd already pulled those off the shelf. I quickly searched the catalog and found something that she found interesting.  Then I took her over to the box of discards and pulled out the 3 Lurlene McDaniel books and told her she could have them if she wanted them. 

She took Six Months to Live with her.

I hope she likes it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


This is the grand opening of the Campbell Middle School Library Blog.  Here you will find news about what's going on in the library and what's going on with your librarian.  

And the news this week is that it's my first week in the CMS library and my brain is churning with ideas and plans.  

My first task is to weed the library.  There are some old books stashed about it cupboards that need to be discarded and there are some old books still on the shelves that need to be removed to make room for all the new books that just don't seem to fit on the shelves.  

Once that is finished, I plan to integrate the "easy" fiction into the regular fiction and create a picture book shelf for picture books.  That's right.  You middle schoolers are not too old for picture books!

Then I need to tackle non-fiction.  It's in need of some serious weeding.  Once all the weeding is done, I'll conduct a needs assessment and write a plan for library improvement for next year.  This plan will include new student computers, a projector, lots of non-fiction books, some reference materials, audio books, magazines, digital resources and some rearranging of the furniture.  Wish me luck.  I may dive in to the Donors Choose pool next year.

Speaking of rearranging, I've been moving computers around today and they don't seem to like it one bit.  I've been on the job 2 days and sent in 3 tech help requests already!  I should probably bake those folks some cookies.  

Any way, check back now and then or follow CMS-library on Facebook or @MrsLibearian on Twitter to find out what's new.