I've been collecting data on the number of warm bodies that come through my middle school library, and how often I serve them, for the last six years. At the end of 2010-2011, I noticed an ugly trend. The numbers were dropping, all of them. Classes served, walk-ins per day, circulations per student, everything had been dropping slowly since 2009. What was I doing wrong?
I showed the numbers to my principal at the beginning of 2011-2012, and we decided it was due to several factors.
1. Our teachers had replaced our defunct reading assessment software for self-selected reading with a "book share" or one-pager (see Kelly Gallagher's book, Readicide), something I applauded and supported, but which made the need to find a library book with a test on it unnecessary. (Decreasing circulation)
2. The number of circulation classes had increased to the point that it was not possible to get research classes into the library as often as necessary, so teachers were taking their classes to the computer lab and skipping the library. (Decreasing the number of research classes)
3. The loss of my library assistant resulted in teachers trying to make my life easier by decreasing the number of passes they allowed to students who needed to come to the library independently. I also had to close the library if I needed to help a teacher in the classroom. (Decreasing the number of walk-ins per day)
I spent the year advertising books with displays, posters, and book talks. I worked with my ELA teachers to encourage them to send students on a pass for circulation more frequently, leaving space for research classes in all content areas. I attended team meetings and actively encouraged all of our teachers to send the students to the library independently. Students were excited to hear that the number of books they could check out would not be limited, leading avid readers to get great stacks of books. I trained student helpers to run the circulation desk, freeing me to be engaged with students looking for books and conducting research. I built my PLN, decreasing the isolation I had experienced, increasing my knowledge, and improving my attitude.
I finished putting my year end data into the spread sheet last week. I checked the numbers once. Then I checked them again. Then I made this pretty infographic using easel.ly.
Can you see why I'm smiling?