The Acquisitions Department

Since I don’t manage my own library budget, I’m in a rather interesting situation with regards to buying new books and replacing stock. I started advocating for some new book stock in about March. I had made a list of┬áreasons based on student feedback and my own observations about our collection:

  • Students were consistently requesting more non-fiction titles, particularly boys but also some girls.
  • Our selection of higher level books (within the AR collection) was very, very sparse. Considering some Year 7s were already reading at level 6.0 and higher, and they still had two years to go on the scheme, there was a real need to increase choice in that area or else these students would literally run out of things to read.
  • Keeping the collection current: I wanted to get new, recently published books in series or from popular authors.

So I presented these reasons to management and was told to go for it. Once I knew I had some money to spend, I also started specifically asking students for recommendations, especially the reluctant readers. This turned out to be great move because by asking reluctant readers what they want, the library will then better reflect their interests (and so hopefully they’ll be more interested in reading) and it will give them a sense of ownership in the library since books they’ve suggested will be on the shelves. If only the turn around was quicker!!! So I’ve been putting together and submitting various book orders and they’ve all started arriving in the past few weeks. I enjoyed to a large degree pointing to the library store cupboard and saying to students ‘there are loads of new books in there so next year will be awesome…’ I also spent time before term finished adding shelves into the bookcases to make more room for all these shiny new books. Now I’ve just got to catalogue them all!

Postscript: we are going to be starting some reading intervention with Key Stage 4 (Year 10-11) next year. This is aimed at students whose reading ages are two years or more below their chronological age. I’ve raised the issue that we’ll need to get some more books in for them as well, particularly high interest/low ability and non-fiction books. So the ordering continues…

Delivering training on Accelerated Reader

Term has finished so I’m catching up on my a few blog posts that have been brewing since oh, about May… At the end of April I delivered some training to staff on the Accelerated Reader scheme. I lobbied for the training because we’ve had a lot of staffing changes in library lessons, and the extent of some people’s understanding of it consisted of a 2-minute conversation sotto voce with me at the beginning of their first lesson! So I proposed that we do some training for all staff involved in AR, and since no one else volunteered to run it I planned and delivered the session myself.

I had 1.5 hours to work with since the training was taking place after school during one of our ‘twilight’ CPD sessions. Several members of SLT (senior leadership team) were slated to attend – what an advocacy opportunity! – but for various reasons could not make it. So I had about 13-14 members of teaching staff present. One thing I took away was to actually count how many people attend anything you do. Ah, metrics and stats, how we need you.

Since I had a fairly long chunk of time and this was coming at the end of the day midweek, I was at pains to break the session up into chunks, rather than having a long, dull lecture. So the first half covered the basics of Accelerated Reader, how it works and how we do it at our school. Then there was an activity/sneaky ploy to reinforce everything they just heard. I created an Accelerated Reader ‘Treasure Hunt’ which took participants around the library finding books at certain levels, figuring out what content level a book was, looking up a book online on the AR Bookfinder, etc. The first team to complete it first with all correct answers got a bag of sweets. To my pleasant surprise, it was a big success as there were a lot of competitive people in the session. I’m actually planning to adapt the game for use with the new Year 7s in the autumn because I think actually figuring out how it works for yourself or within a team helps information sink in better than listening to me give a long spiel.

The second half of the training covered common issues and problems with Accelerated Reader and some solutions. I also put in a couple slides to advocate for the library which I called ‘What I can do for you’ and ‘What the library can do for you’. This included handling IT issues in lesson, recommending books and the capabilities of the library space and resources available (laptops, etc.). Finally the last 15-20 minutes was questions and discussion amongst participants. This was brilliant as there were several individuals in the room who had significant experience with AR and so shared a lot of best practice with everyone else.

We’re planning some more training for the autumn and also getting in a remote training session from the AR people, so will report on that as and when it happens.