If you've ever tried running a Google search for something that you're certain exists but you just can't hit upon the right combination of words, you'll know how powerless and frustrated you feel.
Now imagine you're the librarian of a school library and students ask multiple times a day "Ms. Bery, do you know where this book is? Do we have it?" The only answer I'm usually able to give is a thoroughly helpful "I don't know" or to point them to browse in the right section. It's a frustrating exercise and it makes me feel as though I'm not serving my students to the best of my abilities, and I'm not. Our library is lucky enough to have a lovely little collection, filled with wonderful books, but without the power of a catalog, card or otherwise, there's simply no efficient way to find out what we do or do not have in our collection.
My frustration with this state of affairs has led me to begin the painstaking work of automating the library. It sounds simple, but it's actually a fairly involved multi-step process.
I start by pulling a selection of books off the shelves. I then evaluate each one, seeing if some need to be weeded (and some definitely do - I think the oldest book I've pulled off the shelves to date was published some time in the 1950s). I then begin the process of entering the remaining books into LibraryWorld, our online catalog. Most of the time, I am able to locate a record for the book through a different library network, but sometimes I have to enter it manually. I must then scan in the actual book using its unique barcode (which I put on), and enter a call number. For fiction, this is easy: FIC and the first three letters of an author's last name. For non-fiction however, I rely on WorldCat and the local Minuteman Library Network catalog to see how other libraries have classified the book using Dewey Decimal Classification. I record the call number and save the record of the book electronically. Once the spine label with the call number has been affixed, I place the book back on the shelf.
It's time consuming, but it's also rather gratifying seeing my efforts pay off, slowly but surely. My hope is I am able to catalog the majority of the non-fiction collection before the end of the school year so that students and teachers alike know exactly what we have and can make more use of the library's collection.
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also review children's, middle grade, and young adult books on Instagram.
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