I bring a lot of things that worked as an educator to my job. I actually bring it everywhere, because well, once you learn how people receive and retain information, it's easy to see it being employed (effectively and ineffectively) all around. It's pretty impossible to un-see it. So when I was charged with making a tour for elementary kids completely from scratch, I immediately started thinking about it like I would any lesson plan or even professional development. What do I want them to take away? What preconceived notions might they have that would keep them from learning meaningfully?
To jumpstart my thinking about these things, I turned to fellow FSU grad Tina, a school librarian in Orlando, FL (or, for those of you who have never lived in the South, "Disney World."). She brought up some really awesome points about how kids don't really know how to choose a book. Talking to her also got me thinking about why the kids would want to go to the public library, when I'm sure they might think, "I have a school library. I don't need another smelly old library." Basically, what's cool about the library? If you, the librarian, don't know what makes the kids' library awesome, it's hard to fake it and make it fun. I went about creating a "tour" that would work on debunking this preconceived notion. What follows is the write up I did for my coworkers:
I put the main ideas in a list and promised I’d get through them, and if I got off track the kids could point at the poster. I also checked off each one as I went along, kind of like how they list things on the sidebar of ESPN. It gives kids something to gauge how long they’ll have to sit there, and to let them know you won’t talk at them forever. Oh it also gives them something to look at besides your face, when they’re used to looking at a few things at once J. Here they are, with a few points I added in:
1) the differences between the school library and the public library (ie, here’s all the cool stuff at the public library:
*The library is YOURS
*It works kind of like your school’s library: you come in, pick out books, and check them out. But there’s MORE:
--you can check out as much stuff as you can carry!
--you can check out DVDs, CDs, CDs with books ON them, computer games, and video games!
--if you’re feeling brave, you can check out a “mystery book.” It has a number on it that means the grade level you want to read at. You can’t look at the book until it’s time to check it out! Give a brand new book a try.
--the BEST difference between the school library and the public library where we are now is that at school you get a couple minutes to look for books. But here, you can take all the time you need! AND you have the librarians to help you pick a great book
2) how to choose a book to check out (ie, there’s something for everyone and we know it: for instance here’s some of the weird stuff we have books about). Here’s the list of books I used to demonstrate the wide variety of things we have: Bionicles (like, seriously, we have a chapter series based on Legos!), Daisy Meadows, Pony-Crazed Princesses (because it’s so ridiculously specific), Boys Rock/Girls Revenge, Max Quimbly/Dragonbreath (as “if you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but your mom said you read it 7 times and PLEASE read something else”), How to Train Your Dragon, Choose Your Own Adventure (great for reluctant readers but many kids nowadays are unfamiliar with the concept, so I explained it really fast), a Superhero chapter book AND a graphic novel, Junkyard Wonders (to show how even though picture books seem “babyish” there’s some that are meant for bigger kids), and 2 Non-fiction books (I picked a book on how to make shoes, and Journey Into the Deep). I ended this section by saying just tell us what you like, or look for it in the computer catalog. Anything you like, we have a book for you
|I hate it when things are labeled incorrectly.|
4) what to do (ie, how to get a library card, the idea of self check, sharing computers, due dates): I explained all of these things to the kids and then provided them with a library card sign up sheet. I made sure to emphasize that they should have their own card (not a parent’s) so they can get on the computers. If I did this again I would probably ask them to raise hands if they’ll want to check out a [name genre or material here], just so I could get in the names one more time and maybe set a goal if they’re still apprehensive about how much there is in the library (this wasn’t a problem, just something that might add value).
Afterward, I let the kids peruse the stacks, and provided library card registrations to people who didn't have them. Kids who had library cards on them were parading around proudly, and other kids found anywhere to sit where they could devour as much of a book they found before they had to go. I felt like it went really well, but I was really glad to get some feedback from the chaperones who were happy with how everything went