#101Woody’s Roundup

Ok, it’s not Woody, but it is a roundup.

These things are the most important issues for librarians in schools, in my opinion.

Get to know the content and structure of the curriculum, if you don’t already. Talk to teachers, staff parents and pupils. Talk to everyone. Network, talk to other librarians. Take every CPD opportunity you can get. Bid for money to supplement your budget, and keep good records so you can make your case clearly and effectively. Try and be innovative, use new technology when appropriate to improve the services you offer. Share ideas on mailing lists, blogs and wikis. Take an interest in your pupils and find out what really makes them tick. Be selective about how you spend your time: if it doesn’t help pupils or school staff, forget it.

Have fun, it’s a great job if it’s done properly.

#100 Keeping It Light

If you don’t have sense of humour in this job, you’re stuffed!

Here’s a collection of library humour and miscellany.

#99 Print Your Own Barcodes

Not suitable for large runs, but you can print off small runs of barcodes here, particularly when you need a duplicate barcode for a damaged one.

It’s very simple, (as long as your symbology is on the list) and you can choose styles, image size and font. Pop in your actual value and generate!

You can either copy the barcode and paste into a word processor for printing, or save the image for further use.

Simple, but brilliant!


#98 Library Thing

If you haven’t come across Library Thing, you should have a look.

It can be used for pleasure, browsing and review purposes. It can also be used as a tool, as books are catalogued on the site. For sure, mostly by amateurs and using Library of Congress cataloguing, but still worth investigating.

You could also use it to network with like minded book lovers, or other professionals.

The site tour is here.

#97 Free Software

Cost of software is often cited as a reason for not getting involved in the creation of electronic materials for pupils and other members of staff in schools. Time and training are other reasons, but those are different issues.

With the advent of open source software, there is a plethora of free software out there, and some of it just as good as the more expensive commercial products. The range is so large, it’s difficult to pick out examples.

My own favourites are audacity (sound), paint.net (images), Open Office (Office Suite), MWSnap 3 (Screen Capture), WordPress (Blogging), and Wetpaint (Wikis).

Loads more recommended here, alongside their commercial cousins.

#96 Accessibility

Linked in with Health & Safety and DDA is the issue of accessibility.

When you create materials for your pupils, do you supply alternative versions? This could be a large print edition, an audio file, a flash video, a braille version, or a high contrast copy.

This issue is becoming more and more prevalent in education, and is one that librarians should be aware of.

There are many excellent websites and blogs that deal with this issue, and offer some very detailed instruction and advice, including recommendations for free software. Some are listed below.

TechDis: Higher Education, but the issues are the same.

elearning Accessibility & Inclusion: Further Education, but again, highly relevant.

BECTA & Accessibility

#95 Theme Days

I have mixed feelings about theme days. I find large corporate ones like World Book Day to be a waste of everyone’s time. The £1 vouchers can be seen fluttering about in the corridors and playgrounds for weeks after the event.

On the other hand, a local or regional one can be quite effective if the librarian’s heart is in it, or if the librarian is working in collaboration with teaching staff. You tend to get a better quality of attention from pupils during class time, particularly if they feel they’re getting a ‘free lunch’ and ‘this isn’t really work’.

It’s useful to keep an eye on other school events also. If you’re going to have a visit from a footballer or a chef, there’ll be requests immediately before and/or after the visit for books and information.

I personally created theme days centred round football, chess, poetry, (various) authors, exploration, history and motor sport, of the ones I remember. They varied from non-events to several hits, i.e. pupils who developed, and retained, an interest in the subject.

I remember an event during my own schooldays (1970s, <sigh> ) where I borrowed a poetry book on a recommendation (Dylan Thomas). I still love poetry and seek out new themes and poets from time to time. So it can work!

This article is aimed at school wind-down activities, but has some very interesting ideas.

#94 Flickr

Flickr is well known to most, it’s one of the better photo storage and sharing sites.

It has some very nifty features including the ability to create custom goods from your photos (promotion), create quality photo books and upload video clips.

One of the little touches is the ability to add notes to photos. These are not the same as tags, but are ‘hotspots’ on the photo itself which give you information when you run your cursor over them. Sounds dull, but have a look at this labelled photo. If you imagine parts of a book, parts of a web address, parts of your library etc, you might begin to see the potential for this tool.

#93 Facebook

I’ve been on Facebook for a while, but haven’t really done much with it apart from keep in touch with a few friends I contact in other ways anyway.

However, the software has a lot of potential to network, and it may take over from mailing lists and newsgroups eventually. There are some relevant librarian groups, like the ones below.

Library 2.0 Interest Group

Libraries & Librarians

Libraries Using Facebook Pages

#92 Supplementing Your Budgets

School library budgets are always tight, if they exist at all.

Even if you receive a reasonable amount to keep your library running (let’s be honest, it’s never enough) it’s always an attractive option to supplement your budget from other sources.

The following are some of the options you might consider:

Regional funds. Your local authority will have various pots of money which will be available for certain types of activities. These could be club activities, services for pupils with SEN, tie-ins with regional services, public libraries etc. Check their website, or contact their community services department.

Government funds. Any funding that comes out to schools for ‘curriculum support’ is fair game. Bid for it imaginatively.

Specialist activities. Chess federations, poetry associations, writing clubs may be prepared to support your activities if they find them interesting. Explore and ask.

Departmental external bids. Keep an eye on other departments: if they are making bids for curricular activities, will they need support materials? If so, maybe you can buy into the bid.

The document linked below is fairly generic, but useful for general guidelines regarding information that should be contained in any bid.

Making Effective Bids