Book Wreath

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was the book wreath (pictured above) that my older daughter Mandy gave me.  She saw a similar wreath hanging in the home of one of her friends (Elizabeth Koon, school librarian at Abner Creek Academy in Duncan, South Carolina) and thought it would make the perfect gift for me.

What a great use for weeded books!  I picture a fundraiser next fall for the Bulldog Booklovers 🙂  Wreaths could be personalized for the recipient by using books from a particular Dewey range.
A search on YouTube brought several results:


What ways have you creatively used weeded books?

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

Weeding Advice from the Professionals!

Bücher (explored #27, 08.02.2008)

In December I sponsored a contest/giveaway for books that I was weeding from my personal collection. As part of the entry form, entrants gave their advice for weeding personal libraries. Their suggestions spurred me on as I packed up seven boxes of books to donate to Goodwill. I asked permission to share their sage advice here with you.

I’ve categorized their advice into Making Decisions, What to do with Weeded Books, and Confessions of a Bibliophile.

Making Decisions

Betsy Long, librarian at Dolby’s Mill Elementary School in Lugoff, South Carolina:  “Is it useful, enjoyable, and intact? If you can answer no to any one of these questions, toss it!”

Carolyn Foote, librarian at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas:   “Books I didn’t love [as I was weeding]  should go. Ones I might refer to again stay.”
Linda Dierks, librarian at East Union Elementary School in Carver, Minnesota:   “I try to keep books I believe I will read again. If that fails for me, I ask myself if I would ever share it with a friend or someday give it to a grandchild.”

Charlotte Bryant’s outlook on weeding is influenced by her life experiences:  “When your children are 27 and 25, it’s time to give away the books on parenting. Neither of my sons is married and I had a shelf full of books on infant to toddler child development books.  So, as we grow as individuals, it may be a good idea to share our books from earlier times inside of keeping them on a shelf in the hall.”

Melissa Nicholson, 5th grade teacher, shares,   “If you haven’t touched it in 10 years, it may be time to let it go!”

Michelle Chase, media specialist, says,  “Damaged and paperbacks go!”

What to Do with Weeded Books

Pat Hensley, an adjunct instructor at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and retired special education teacher, keeps it short and sweet:  “Donate books to others who can not afford them.”

Karen Hoover, another library media specialist, shares, “Donate to Friends of the Library booksales – and then try not to buy them again.”

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Finally, my good friend Heather Loy, media specialist at Wagener-Salley High School in Wagener, South Carolina, shares, “Keepers are ones I re-read often or have sentimental value.  Discards are ones I purchased but haven’t read in 5 years (yes, had a bunch in this category). Ones that I knew ‘I’d never re-read [go]. A bunch I just got rid of were ones I started the first two/three chapters and it didn’t grab me and demand I finish it – regardless of if it’s a favorite author of mine.  My time is limited, if it takes that long to get into a book it’s not worth it. And last, I had a bunch of YA, picturebooks, and children’s titles that I took into my school library.  While they are no longer “mine” I can still enjoy them as well as share them with my ‘kids.'”

Image attribution:

Contest Winner

I’d like to thank all who took the time to complete the form to enter the contest for the book giveaway. The entrants shared advice on weeding personal libraries that I will be sharing as soon as I have permission from them to do so.

Drum roll…and the winner is…Monique German!

Downsizing, or Can’t I Just Keep Them All?

To Weed, or Not to Weed:  Is that really the question?

As a library media specialist, I make weeding decisions: books that are in poor condition, outdated, contain inaccurate information (can you say “Pluto”?), or that haven’t been checked out in years – these must go to make room for new books. However, making decisions about books to weed from my personal collection? Not as easy.

This Christmas, my husband and I decided to gift the family with a new living room. We literally sold all the furniture we had (including a three piece wall unit with 10 bookshelves) to make room for a new, and might I say, much more inviting living space. I love the spacious, uncluttered look of the room, but it required me to box up hundreds of books and begin making decisions.

The first round through my weeding, I was able to let go of  five boxes of books – and I took them almost immediately to Goodwill so that I wouldn’t have time to change my mind.

In Search of Weeding Criteria

I love books on organizing and clutter control.  None of those went to Goodwill, and some are currently stuffed into boxes with the hundreds of other books with which I couldn’t bear to part.  The others? (Clearing throat here.)  They have their own shelf on one of the six bookcases downstairs.  Ironically, that shelf cannot now be accessed without moving the seven boxes of books that joined the party from the living room.

So, this weekend I decided to investigate the ebooks our public library offered and found The Clutter Cure. In it  author Judi Culbertson shares “The Top Ten Reasons to Let a Book Go”:

“1. You couldn’t get into it…

2. You enjoyed the book, but you know you’ll never read it again…

3. Your interests have changed…

4. The information is outdated…

5. The book is attractive but too general…

6. You mistakenly think the book is valuable…

7. The book is falling apart physically…

8. You don’t have room to display your books without looking cluttered…

9. The best thing about the book is that it is inscribed to you…

10. You don’t love it.”

~p. 52-53

Although this is great advice, it didn’t turn on any light bulbs.  I had already used quite a bit of these strategies in the first round of  my weeding process.

Still Looking….

That’s why I was pleased to find the N.Y. Times article “Books You Can Live Without” this morning.  Authors Francine Prose, Billy Collins, David Matthews, and  Jane Smiley share their criteria for weeding their personal libraries.   These authors have inspired me to march myself downstairs and get to work.

However, in all fairness, two other authors were interviewed for the article.  Their stories must be heard, but I cannot focus on them, or all is lost.

Author Joshua Ferris’s personal philosophy about books:  “Get rid of a book? No way. Every one is a brick keeping the building standing. Books are my life. I leave and come back, and the books I find there tell me I’m home.”

The other author interviewed for the article, Chang-rae Lee, says, ”  Although periodically I have fits of discarding all sorts of sentimental flotsam like old note cards and photographs and perfectly decent dress socks, I can’t bring myself to get rid of even a book I dislike, perhaps because I read “Fahrenheit 451” at an impressionable age. Still, there are too many books in our house, a good number of them not chosen but sent or given to me, and so here’s some I’d cull…”

Then Lee proceeds to share the criteria he would use if he were to pare down his personal library.  Sigh….

I’ve Put It Off Long Enough

I could go downstairs, shove those boxes of books over, and look to see what advice my organizing and decluttering books offer on weeding personal libraries.  But that would just be delaying the inevitable.

As one of my favorite television hosts says, “I’m going in, people!” (Neicy Nash, Clean House)


Because every bibliophile wants their books to have good homes, I’m going to sponsor a contest.  The prize?  A book (of your choice from ten that I will list) shipped free to your home.  (Sorry, U.S. residents only.)

Complete this form by midnight EST, December 30, 2009 to be entered into the contest.  The winner will be announced on the blog on December 31, 2009.