My library is popular for school visits because its a repository collection. I think a fun thing about working at my library is the fact that we have a great research collection available for the community especially since a lot of our surrounding schools do not have libraries (no matter the type of school: public, private, or charter). Needless to say, we are regularly booked with school tours during the year. We have also had an increase in different types of library instruction classes. Teachers are wanting students to be able to navigate beyond research instruction and learn how to navigate our digital streaming, e-audio, and e-book collections, too. Teachers are wanting to students to be familiarized with knowing how to download digital items on either school provided hardware (or their own mobile devices) through our library catalog. This particular school visit was to train students on our Library Catalog and Overdrive.
Library Catalog Instruction
This is pretty standard for most library visits. We set up our computer lab because library instruction is a hands-on experience. Students will partner (or can go solo) as they experience how to search our catalog. I highlight generalized search features: finding the catalog, basic keyword catalog searching, tips on learning how to find items (reading the catalog record). I utilize the teaching strategy: I do. We do. You do. I have them follow along with me in finding the library website and getting to the catalog page. I might ask them a particular book to type in and do a keyword search on a that particular title.
Depending on time, I'll ask students to give me another search term we can all find together. I might ask a favorite book, or a recent movie someone saw and then we are off to find it at the library. When the results load I'll go through an explanation of the library record, and we might do another one together. I would then have students talk among their partner about the books availability and the location of finding the book. If the book isn't available it leads into asking lead questions about other ways to access the book from the library.
From there, I'll turn it over to the students (usually have them switch out if they are sharing) and give them another item to search on their own. Learning how to search for items at the library is a life-long process. Library school teaches you why classification is so confusing no matter what system you use. For younger students, it is about their exposure to the library catalog and building their persistence in finding materials. Navigating the library just takes practice. It's not a difficult feat, but it can seem intimidating. It's giving them baby steps to learn the process of how to be an independent library user. I am visited by a lot of frustrated college students who come straight to the desk and tell me in an angry tone about how a book, "IS JUST NOT THERE!"
I would say 90% of the time I can find the book on the shelf (I'm including if it's not shelved correctly). I'm a relentless searcher. Of course, there will be 10% of times that books that will not be there. Whether they are missing (lost/stolen) or sometimes the kids are working on the same report (and picked the same book moments before) or someone is currently reading it. Yet, I get a lot of college students who just absolutely HATE navigating the library and searching.
Let me clarify further: I don't mind searching for patrons AT ALL---if you are in school to be a future educator or future early childhood worker: you NEED to know how to navigate the library. If a family is at the library and caretaker looks overwhelmed, honey, give me that list---and let me help you and your family out. I want your trip to the library to be a pleasant one, but I also want you to be confident in your ability to use the library. WHY? BECAUSE IT'S EASY. That being said my goal is to help my younger kids not be afraid to ask me questions or have me help them with their navigation on our catalog computers. That is the foundation for getting use to navigating the library and build confidence as you get older in learning how your library is organized.
While I may not *personally* support education practices my duty as a librarian is being a support for educators. That means if teachers are teaching Lexile than I need to make sure kids can find books in their Lexile range. This particular school group wanted Lexile books highlighted for their class. Our catalog has this cool integrated feature that teachers love:
It makes it easier for kids to find books in their range and links to them in our catalog. It's a pretty nifty feature. Kids can get an idea of narrowing down books (I always tell them to find 3-5 choices JUST in case their top choices are not available) they might be interested in reading.
The teachers I work with are great about partnering with me in instruction to tailor specific needs to their classes. From there kids are highly engaged in finding books because we usually have a short time frame.
I usually give kids our awesome designed pamphlets as a note taking/reminder if they need help in accessing ebooks. I go through and have them circle and star important items. It helps hold their attention and I get to make sure they understand the basic steps to accessing materials. I usually highlight how to find books, how to tell if they are available, placing them on hold, downloading, and getting an Adobe ID. I might also mention our other digital services (like Hoopla!) if there is time. We talk about how the book automatically returns and the lack of fines and I usually give them time to explore the platform.
Library Instruction Objectives
My main objective for school tours: Inspire Lifelong Learning. The simplest way is to show that the library is a warm and welcoming place. I will see MANY different schools over the course of a year, but I may not regularly see the same students or classes. While I wish I could build a library instruction program where I see the same kids often, it is not the reality. I try to keep that in mind to make sure that I do not overwhelm kids with information and I provide the building blocks for making them WANT to pursue information when they get older.
I had 64 students from 4 classes visit today. The kids were amazing listeners. They were attentive and engaged in being active participants. I got good feedback from the kids about their favorite books to search for and students familiar with checking out items at the library. We explored Overdrive and the teachers loved the Lexile range options. I received great feedback from teachers in resources their students have been using and what library resources they were excited to go back and practice after this training. The teachers talked about the big push in their respective schools for improved reading scores and my supervisor and I talked about new ways we can further support students and educators in that push for higher reading scores.