on evidence that is not always so evident…

What do jury duty, reading student applications for National Honor Society, and public policy debate research in frosh classes have in common?

Why, that would be… EVIDENCE!

My question to you this month is: What are you teaching your students about evidence in their research work?

I have been thinking a lot about evidence of late because I recently won the jury pool lottery; I have been reading National Honor Society applications from students, and we are just about to start working on research for a debate project with some of our frosh classes.

Juror #10 for the Win! – In my worst moments as human being, I sometimes dream of winning a ginormous lottery, buying all the businesses that have given me bad service over the years, and firing all the people responsible for the heinous wrongs they have inflicted upon me. Unfortunately (or, in reality, fortunately…) the Universe isn’t designed around Dave’s crazy delusions of revenge so try as I might I never seem to win huge cash lotteries. Not winning huge cash payouts, payable to me either in a lump sum or as an annuity over a period of twenty years, means that the rather obscene scenario outlined above will likely never come to pass – in the scheme of things, not such a bad thing…

Things to do: Make friends with Peter Theil

You know what kind of lotteries I do seem to win, though? The jury pool lottery! Last week I served on my third jury. While serving on a jury isn’t an experience that I have yearned for over the years, I believe with all my heart that with the rights come responsibilities. As a good American citizen, after receiving my jury summons in the mail, I show up when it says to show up. If you are not an American citizen or just have not been called for jury duty, here’s how it works. You show up at the appointed time. The names of all of the prospective jurors in the jury pool go into a bingo game-like hopper. The bailiff spins the bingo hopper around like an organ grinder. If your name is one of the first twelve that falls out, you sit in the jury box so the lawyers can ask you questions and decide if they like you or if they want to strike you and call another juror with a better face.

I have the juror lotto wired! I win almost every time!

Aside: My lawyer friend says that lawyers love librarians because, “Librarians are used to weighing evidence and evaluating arguments so usually I’ll try to keep them.” Yay for us…

As it turned out, I was assigned to a dog of a case. There was no credible evidence so my jury of seven men and five women found the defendant not guilty after about fifteen minutes of deliberation.

Evidence of Leadership – The wheels of American justice turn rather slowly so during our hour-and-a-half lunch break, and our half-hour breaks throughout the day, I was also reading student applications for membership to our National Honor Society. National Honor Society asks that students show evidence of: scholarship, character, service, and leadership. This is the third year that I have been a file reader for the NHS selection process and over the years it has become clear that even some of our best students struggle with concept of “evidence.” Evidence of service is easy. “I did ___ hours of community service at the Institute for Human Services serving meals to homeless people.” However, how one documents “evidence of leadership” is a task that seems to challenge many of even our very best students.

Which brings us back to my question for you this month. What are you teaching your students about evidence in their research work?

We are about to start working with some frosh classes doing research for public policy debates on global issues. We teach that a good debate argument has three parts: the assertion, the reasoning, and THE EVIDENCE. While it is a nice formula, I think that 14-year old me would have struggled to develop a complete 3-part argument and I think that EVIDENCE would have been the piece to give me the most difficulty.

In the past, my approach has been to teach student students that supporting evidence might come in these basic forms:

  • Facts
  • Numbers (and statistics)
  • Quotes
  • Examples (historical and contemporary)
  • Analogies

Adapted and used with permission courtesy: http://erikpalmerconsulting.com/

Click here to view as a Powtoon video.
Click here to view as Google Slideshow

I’ve never seen or read anything about how other librarians help students find evidence to support their arguments so I’d love to hear about what you are doing!

on note taking…

I’m wondering, this month, how everybody else out there in Library Land handles the seemingly simple, but actually quite perplexing, task of taking notes in the service of research. I’m not asking about anything fancy like how you skillfully coach students in the art of extracting useful and relevant information as they close read from a source. We not even there yet. I’m talking about the BASIC, BASIC, BASICS of note taking.

  • Do your students take notes on paper or in some digital format?
  • Do they take notes in a specific research management platform like NoodleTools or in a word processing tool like Google Docs?
  • Do they use 3X5 or 4X6 index cards?
  • As they are scribing their notes, do they cluster the facts/content by the source in which the content is found, or do students cluster facts/content by the research question that the fact/content addresses?
  • Do you, in your library program, force students to take notes in a particular way or is it up to each student? Or teacher?

Our Context

Note taking has been knocking around in the cavern that is my head of late because since we started school in the first week of August my partner in the library, @NikkiLibrarian, and I have have been madly taking our middle schoolers through the basics of research. Our current middle school is 7 periods a day. Each period is 45-minutes. As a rather large school, we have 5 classes of 6th graders, 7 classes of 7th graders, and 7 classes of 8th graders. Within this framework, we’ve seen every 6th grader 6 times, every 7th grader 5 times, and every 8th grader 4 times. Let me tell you, that is a LOT of lessons!

In each grade’s lesson arc we took a project assigned by their teachers and worked with them on defining the information tasks; locating and using content in books, databases, and websites;  learning how to navigate in NoodleTools (new to us this year); and taking notes.

We are a 3rd grade through 12th grade library. Our information and research curriculum is still growing and taking form, but our emphasis in the middle school years seems to be moving toward helping students get very comfortable and confident with the MECHANICS of research:

  • Searching the library catalog.
  • Using call numbers to find a book on the shelf.
  • Using tables-of-contents and indexes to locate information within a source.
  • Searching in databases.
  • Locating the bibliographic data needed to cite an item within a book, in a database, on a website, or from an online image.
  • Taking notes.

Note: We do engage our middle schoolers in discussions about source quality and the differences between databases and websites, but over the years I’ve come to be convinced that middle school students just lack the necessary life experience and critical thinking skills required to truly practice good source evaluation. Rather than force a task for which they are not yet developmentally ready, we’ve chosen to help them get really good at the mechanics of citation so we can, largely, take that instructional piece off the table in our high school classes. This, effectively, allows us to invest our time and energy in high school classes in driving deeper learning about source selection and evaluation.

Our Quandry with the Note Taking Piece

This brings me back to note taking. We are a 1:1 iPad school and, I think, this is what is perplexing me about teaching note taking in with our middle schoolers. Our students’ iPads don’t currently allow them to work with two windows open at the same time. For me, this is a PROBLEM. Here’s why…

Reading an eBook is an abstraction.
Taking notes on a device is an abstraction.

As I see it, when I can see both abstractions side-by-side, the device “holds” both abstractions for me so I can concentrate on reading the content and extracting that which is useful.

Side-by-side windows help keep the two abstractions clear to me so I can concentrate on my content and note taking.

When I can only see one abstraction at a time, my brain becomes responsible for “holding” each abstraction AND reading the content AND extracting the parts that are useful.

I need to read this on my device. I need to remember what I read. I need to close the source app. I need to open my notes app. I need to scribe what I read in note form. I need to identify the source from which the note has come. I need to close my notes app and re-open my ebook and go back to reading where I left off..

When this is my process, I find that I run out of “brain power” and I cannot take notes well. I have students (even middle school students) who can, indeed, take notes well this way on an iPad, but I, personally, find the task and work flow very challenging. I think that good iPad note takers are a minority of students.

My (Not So Universal) Solution

I have become an advocate for the use of paper notes, but given our school culture I do not “dictate” note taking formats. I have middle school teachers who have a strong (and admirable) desire to give students choice and agency when it comes to the way that they take notes and I am okay with that. I just like to have the discussion with teachers ahead of time so that they are aware of the advantages and disadvantages inherent to each. The only requirement that I impose is that however the notes are taken, a note must always be connected in an explicit and unambiguous way to a specific source in some form.

Here are some iterations of paper note taking formats we have been using this year.

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Our “starter” format developed by Sumoha Jani, our 6th grade Project Inquiry class teacher.
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Our “a little beyond starter” format used by 6th graders later in the year, 7th, and 8th graders. The form started with lines in the boxes, but some students note by webbing or drawing so this works gives them more flexibility.
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One source to a page because sometimes you need more room.
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Sometimes you just need the citation box so you can paste it into your composition notebook on the page(s) where your notes will live.
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Sometimes you have to cite a lot of images for a project and we’re finding that sometimes gathering information on paper before entering it into NoodleTools is faster for some students than switching between apps in real time .

People will Use Technology the Way THEY Find Useful, Not How YOU Expect Them To…

Because of my iPad abstractions theory (BTW, the whole abstractions thing is totally just based on my personal observations so they aren’t researched-based in any other way, shape, or form.) I purposely chose not to introduce the NoodleTools notecard capability in our NoodleTools rollout. When you give resourceful, tech-confident people choice and agency, however, they tend to exercise those choice and agency muscles and within a few days, teachers and students were using the NoodleTools notecard feature–many of them with absolute glee!

Some of my teachers LOVE the ability to have students copy/paste/enter original text and paraphrase in the same space!

Aside: Seriously, people, everything would be SO MUCH EASIER if you all would just do things my way, but okay, I get that it’s not all about me in the end (Honestly, in my head it actually will always be ALL about me, but well…Nobody else goes along so I try to keep my delusions of grandeur in my head where they belong…). Hahaha!

And then on to High School…

When our students move on to high school, we find that high school students and teachers come to develop their own note taking systems. Some continue to group notes/facts/quotes by the source in very much the same way that notes are gathered on the worksheets. Many are finding, however, that it is oftentimes more effective to either cluster notes by topic or to just write all of your notes out as you find them and cluster like ideas together later in the process. We recommend that they skip spaces between notes and write only on the fronts of sheets so that if they choose, notes can be cut into strips and grouped. Our students do a lot of “co-construction” in their classes so this is a method that is modeled for them frequently. Personally, I find it messy and challenging, but I have teachers who’ve had students do it once and found that students continued the practice even when it wasn’t required in subsequent projects.

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Our high schoolers are taught to put “sources consulted” into NoodleTools FIRST, then use parenthetical citation to tie a note to its source.
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Then use MLA parenthetical citation format to link your note to its source of origin.
A National History Day note taking template developed by a high school social studies teacher to scaffold the note taking process for frosh. I like how the structure is a bridge between what our students did in 8th grade and what they need to do as Frosh. Note taking for older students is much less structured.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I think with note taking, there are always going to be individual differences amongst our students. A middle school student that struggles with executive function and cannot keep track of a notebook or physical pieces of paper, might well be best off learning to take notes with NoodleTools notecards or in a Google Doc. I totally get that. I’m just trying to think through my reasoning for advocating my positions when it comes to note taking.

When we’re working on a project collaboration and I ask, “How are your kids going to take notes?” I frequently have teachers tell me, “I like to have my students choose the method that works for them.” One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that teachers frequently don’t realize that nobody has ever explicitly taught their students multiple methods for taking notes. Everybody assumes that someone else has covered that ground. I guess, though, that’s why we have librarians who keep track of stuff like that over a 15 year curriculum! I’m fond of pointing out that a choice of the one method that you know how to do is, in reality, not a choice at all. I’m fortunate to work with teachers who get that and work with us to try to address this need in as clean a way as it possible given our school culture.

At some point we need to carve out time in the curriculum to work with students on note taking work flows in paper formats, note taking work flows in digital tools like Pages or Google Docs, and note taking work flows in research management platforms like NoodleTools. Only after our students have experimented well with more than one method of note taking, have we really given students any choice at all.

For future consideration:

Okay, now that you know that you prefer to take notes on (choose one):

[  ] Paper     [  ] NoodleTools     [  ] Google Docs

What do you actually write?

That’s a whole other post for a whole other day!

So how are you handling note taking in your research curriculum, folks? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing and what you are thinking!

on what i did on my summer vacation…

As a child so very long ago in the era now known as the “Days of Yore” my teachers used to ask us to write about what we did over our glorious 3 months of summer vacation. Here at Mid-Pacific our students return in the second week of August so we have been in session for about six weeks, but like delayed coverage of the Olympics in Rio, this post comes to you “plausibly live.” Whatever … Just go with it and pretend we’re all just coming back to school.

What I did On My Most Excellent Summer Vacation

Story and Pictures by Dave Wee

Getting a Running Start into the Summer – My most excellent summer vacation actually started in the two weeks before the end of last school year. After many scheduling hiccups, the head of our high school Social Studies Department gave us an hour of department meeting time to share library resources and discuss information instruction goals. I had been trying to schedule this meeting since returning to campus after the AISL Spring Conference in LA. I returned extremely excited about working to re-vision our information instruction curriculum around the “source literacy” concept that Nora Murphy from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy presented during her breakout session. For a variety of reasons our meeting didn’t materialize until the second to last week of school, but in the end the timing could not have been better! Presenting our new information literacy instruction goals to our teachers just before they went off on their summers, put our goals at the forefront of their minds just as they went off to do their planning and curriculum development for this school year. I greatly underestimated how much planning our teachers do over the summer!

In this meeting we let teachers know that our goals were to move our information literacy instruction beyond formatting, NoodleTools, and works cited lists and really work more deeply at making source evaluation and source literacy a more authentic part of the learning experience. As part of this transition, we showed teachers a prototype of a student “source literacy bank” that we want to implement going forward, and asked teachers lay a foundation for that endeavor by asking students to build annotated works cited lists rather than our traditional works cited lists as a way to heighten students’ awareness of the importance of source evaluation.


Click here to view the full template.
Click here to view the full Personal Source Literacy Bank template.
Click here to view our Annotated Works Cited slideshow. The library built the slideshow, but instruction on writing the annotations is largely being delivered by classroom teachers.


Kupu Hou Academy – Mid-Pacific Institute, where I work, is a PK-12 school that is heavily committed to project-based, deeper learning. As part of that movement, Mid-Pacific sponsors an intensive 4-day workshop to help educators develop actual project-based learning experiences that they will then implement during the next school year. During the first week of June, I had an opportunity to participate in the Kupu Hou Academy experience. While Kupu Hou is open to educators from all over, many of my Mid-Pacific colleagues from the elementary, middle, and high schools attend so it gave me an opportunity to work alongside many of my Mid-Pacific colleagues of all levels and informally (and formally) let my colleagues know… ” We can help you with this part next year! Let’s schedule some library sessions!”

AISL Summer Institute: Design Thinking @ Your Library – After Kupu Hou and a short stint as summer school librarian, I was incredibly fortunate to attend the AISL summer institute that the illustrious Madame President Katie Archambault of The Emma Willard School hosted up in Troy, NY. If you have not yet seized the opportunity to attend one of our colleague-hosted summer institutes, do yourself a favor and just go! All the cool librarians are there! My group, Melinda Holmes, Marsha Hawkins, Stan Burke, and myself, explored the question, “How might we make our information instruction more user-centric?”

Me: Before Design Thinking @ Your Library [GIF courtesy: http://gph.is/2aZudL6%5D

Goodness! Exploring a question like that with three amazing library colleagues was exhausting, but also incredibly helpful! Regretfully, I cannot remember from which teammate it came, but the single most helpful thing that came out of my all of my experiences this summer is that one of the librarians on our team offhandedly said, “I teach that sources are people, not things…”

Think about that, librarians!

“Sources are people, not things…”


In true Ted Talk fashion, when something is incredibly insightful and significant the speaker always says it twice with a pause in between so the audience can think about it.


“Sources are people, not things…”

That statement has actually become one of the linchpins of our source evaluation instruction here at Mid-Pacific! No more acronyms or checklists. We’re now teaching students to be mindful of the fact that since “Sources are people, not things…” before we use content we find in our searching we need to evaluate the creators’ qualifications as an “expert” in relation to the question(s) that we are asking. When you think about it, that’s about 80% of source evaluation in a nutshell!

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Me: After Design Thinking @ Your Library [GIF Courtesy: http://gph.is/1dBTYkK
Coming Full Circle and Back-to-School – We have been fortunate to have frosh Social Studies/Humanities teachers get on board and they are giving us an opportunity to present this basic framework for source evaluation to all of our frosh before they begin their first major research projects this year. We’re now well on our way to rolling this out as an 85-minute block period lesson this quarter.

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Click here to view our frosh source evaluation lesson. This is the basic framework, but we customize the slideshow based on the course or project.
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Click here to view our source evaluation activity lesson plan.
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Posters that we send back to class with our teachers and students.

So that is what I did over my summer vacation. I absolutely love my job and love my colleagues! I get to come to work at a place where classroom teachers, our administrators, our educational technology teachers, and our IT services staff all work to make learning happen. It really is a WONDERFUL THING!

This is good because … alas … My 5 quick picks tickets failed to win me the enormous Powerball Lottery jackpot this summer…

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Welcome back to school, everyone!


Book Club: Change By Design

I’ve never done this before so I’m just figuring this out. Please be kind. Hope you will join us in discussing Change By Design by Tim Brown.41-aavmqafl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

  • Chapter 1 – Getting Under Your Skin (Switched to a Lino canvas because it seems to give us a bit more functionality)
  • Chapter 2 – Converting Need Into Demand (Prompts offered only as suggested starters. Please feel free to post that which is of interest to you!)
  • Chapter 7 – Design Thinking Meets the Corporation










on #macgyverlibrarianship…

One of my favorite things about the AISL Annual Conference is the opportunity to visit the libraries of friends and colleagues from different places and act on my nosy tendencies. I like to look in the workroom cupboards and I often peek behind the circ desks, and in the closets and drawers (Hahaha! Now none of you will ever invite me to your homes…). The opportunity to spend time wandering about in someone else’s “library home” is invaluable. I like seeing how people organize their work flows. Seeing what kinds of books they order. Seeing the kind of book stops they use. Seeing  the wording of their signage. Seeing what supplies and things they put out for students to use. I like seeing all of it.

To be very honest, sometimes the opportunity turns me green with envy–I really, really want the NanaWall that I saw at The Willows School. #ShakesFistInAirAtCathyLeverkus

The Nanawall at The Willows School

Sometimes it sparks appreciation–Wow, I am SO fortunate to have as many small group-study rooms as I do.

Sometimes the opportunity sparks inspiration–Hey, I never thought of doing that. I can do that!

One of the challenging things about the conference is that we, very understandably, typically see gorgeous, newly renovated spaces that are architectural showcases. The vast majority of AISL librarians, however, have to find innovative and creative ways to meet the evolving needs of our school communities in our existing facilities, and typically, within existing budgets.

Upon returning from #AISL16LA, I had a fun exchange on Twitter with @emmalibrarylove (Katie), @researchwell (Tasha), @bonnieubarnes (Bonnie), @annalynnmartino (Anna), and Sara from Milton Academy. Through this tweet thread, I learned about the #macgyverlibrarianship movement.


As far as I can tell, the #macgyverlibrarianship hashtag is the brainchild of @jenniferlagarde a librarian in North Carolina who blogs at The Adventures of Library Girl. Basically, the #macgyverlibrarianship movement is a whole bunch of librarians sharing budget-friendly, creative hacks they have used to wring more functionality from their spaces and from their budgets. They share their creations and ideas on twitter and add the hashtag so it can be found.

If you are not a Twitter user or you haven’t searched hashtags much before, take a moment and click on the link below to give it a try.

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How cool is that, huh? Be careful, though, if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself drilling down through the tweet stream and it’s a rabbit hole. You could be lost for hours… #YouveBeenWarned

Things these librarians are doing with paint, fishing line, a glue gun, and some nails is astonishing.

#macgyverlibrarianship Wannabe

I must say, that I have never been able to count myself amongst the smartest kids in my classes, but my two saving talents to this point in my life have been my ability to choose good people to hang out with and my ability to steal borrow appropriate use steal the ideas of other people and find useful ways to incorporate them into my work.

Aside: Since returning from #AISL16LA I’ve been madly incorporating @FSHALibrarian ‘s (Nora) research scope and sequence as well as her source literacy concepts into our program and instructional goals for next year. It’s a work in progress so will probably be a post down the road.

Here’s what I’ve stolen so far (apologies, but some of this is a retread of stuff that’s been shared in various places previously):

After: 4″ locking casters from Home Depot

Note: If you make your furniture easily moveable, people will move your furniture around. It makes total sense, but you need to be mentally prepared as users of your library will do what you have invited them to do. Teachers are polite and move tables back where they belong, but plan on getting over obsessing about the precise placement of tables and chairs in the places where they “belong.” #IfISayItIWillEventuallyBelieveIt


English teachers like seminar-style seating. And that’s the whole point, right?
While we’re not a designated “maker space,” kids are making stuff in our library all the time. We repurposed one of our student-built carts and turned it into our supply station. Just in time for end-of-year display board season.
Rolling white boards
On a budget…
Before. Sarah Richardson from HGTV would not approve…
After! Who knew what could be done with fabric and a staple gun before Youtube?
After! Who knew what could be done with fabric and a staple gun before Youtube? Not sure if Sarah would approve, but it’s a lot better than it was a week ago! Hahaha!
There is something about writing on the walls that appeals to kids of all ages. Not cheap, but maybe some of the best money I’ve spent. Gets FAR more use than white boards mounted in other rooms.

A number of people have asked about an idea that got shared on using time lapse video to show library use as a tool for library advocacy. There are many time lapse apps available, but I use the Lapse It app for iPad  largely because it was free and it was first on the list. #BadLibrarian

Here is a short sample from a random day last April.

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My price-is-right video rig!

I would experiment with the duration between shots in order to best capture the ebb and flow of students in your space. Haven’t used it myself yet, but I just discovered this handy Timelapse Calculator that might be worth a try. #ThisIsExciting

I hope something in this very random mix of things has been helpful to someone out there. If you’ve got any great #macgyverlibrarianship ideas to share, post them to Twitter! #SharingIsCaring

While you’re at it, go ahead and also try searching #AISL16LA The great notes, ideas, and pics make it a great hunting ground for ideas whether you were able to attend the LA Conference this year or not!

A final note on hashtags: If you’re not a big Twitter user, hashtags, while typically used very much like subject headings to make like-content searchable in the Twitterverse, are also commonly used to give context to/for a Tweet.





on weeding…

Hello from Hollywood!

As you read this, we’re in the midst of a thrilling week of exploration, networking, sharing, whining/wining, dining, learning, fun, and rejuvenation in Los Angeles at #AISL16LA!

Not So Fast

As I’m writing in the week before the conference, however, it is business as usual in our library. This week we have librarian-led lessons for 6th grade science classes, 10th grade MPX humanities classes, 10th grade English classes, 10th grade history classes, ELD classes, health classes, a librarian accompanying a class to the Japanese Cultural Center Archives to research the internment of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii during WWII, and a whole bunch of other classes coming in to use the library for class sessions led by teachers rather than librarians. It’s all very exciting. We’ve invited folks into the library and they’ve taken us up on our offer. Except for the bald spots on the sides of my head where I’ve pulled all the hair out while trying to schedule elementary, middle, and high school classes running on different schedules into our space, it’s all amazingly good!

Getting Ready to Get Ready

While all of that is happening, however, a library still has to be a library and a collection still needs loving care and nurturing. Over the past few months, I worked my way through the 900 section, embarking on D. Wee’s Big Adventure in Cataloging as documented here and here. I’m thrilled to report that my recon and shifting project is now done and we’ve started to weed!

Weeding vs. Clear-Cutting?

Weeding my print collection is hard for me because I find myself squeezed between the two sometimes conflicting visceral instincts of librarianship:

Keep everything “just in case” because you might need it someday!


Provide users the best content that is available.

How do you decide what to weed?  Not so very long ago, this meme fell into my Facebook feed. I only have family and personal friends on Facebook so very few of them are librarians. Interestingly, it was promptly liked by hoards of my Facebook friends.


While thinking about how to best put “weeding theories” into practice, I came across To Weed or Not To Weed? Criteria to Ensure that Your Nonfiction Collection Remains Up to Date by Deborah B. Ford via School Library Journal. Ford offers up much great advice and insight, but the MUSTIE method had a concise, pithy appeal that spoke to me particularly because a decent many books in my 900s are ugly, superseded, or have information easily obtainable from other resources.

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Finally, in a totally unplanned coincidence, during the time that I was thinking a lot about weeding, I happened to finish Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. This is, by no means, a fair summary of the whole of Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method, but since finishing the (truly wonderful) book, I have had a tendency to facetiously boil the method down to holding an object in my hands and asking myself, “Do you spark joy?” and if the answer is “no.” Throwing the item out.

One of my life’s great ironies is that this book is one that I am now “hoarding” on a shelf at home! Hahaha!

Theory Into Action

At some point, you can gather all of the information in the world, but information can only be empowering when you put it to action so eventually, I had little choice but to pull up a book truck and begin the weeding process. As it stands, there were OLD books that stayed on shelves because they offered unique perspectives or content; books that were slam dunks for weeding just because they were beyond repair and/or just gross; books that were just NEVER going to be borrowed by ANY child or young adult; and, ultimately, books that stayed on the shelves because I just could not make up my mind.

Hall of Fame: Weeding Edition!

Hmmm! When did this country cease to exist? Was it 1995?
Hmmm! When did this country cease to exist? Was it 1995?
Things have changed!
Times change! Things have changed! Books need to be changed!
Contemporary Political Leaders
Most of these guys are dead so, yeah, not quite “contemporary” enough! LOL!
The “failed to spark joy” truck.

Silk Purses from Sows’ Ears

Weeded books with some possible usefulness in other contexts get boxed and stored until they can be picked up by our local Friends of the Library group. We have, however, saved some to use for future source evaluation lessons. “Take a look at the book on your group’s table. Why do you think this book should be removed from our library? Discuss amongst yourselves.” We don’t want students to just assume that just because a book resides on our shelves, that it doesn’t merit active and through evaluation before the information in it can be put to use.

It Never Ends…

Weeding of our 900s continues, but when we finish there will always be other beds to weed.

Our planet section got a not-so-long-ago refresh, but Pluto continues to taunt us.
Scan 1
Hahaha!!! Maybe we do sports next!
  • What are your weeding challenges?
  • What hits/tips/tricks might you offer to a weeding novice like me?
  • What’s the funniest weed you’ve ever found in your collection?




on planting a library…

Gardening seems to be emerging as my current blogging arc so this week I’m posting about sowing the seeds that, I hope, will someday grow into a real life elementary library!

The Challenge: Get More Books Into Elementary Students’ Hands

We are a PK-12 school with one library. Middle and high school students visit us before school, after school, and throughout the day. Beginning in grade 3, elementary students take the quarter-mile, up-hill, trek from the elementary to the library located at the very top and far opposite end of the campus. Mid-Pacific is nestled in beautiful Manoa Valley in the mountains above Honolulu which is known for a frequent rain that locals call “Manoa mist.” I must admit that I love when it rains on elementary class days because I get to admire the “iPad raincoats” that the elementary kids make out of Ziploc freezer bags! It’s amazing how creative kids can get with a Ziploc bag, markers, and brightly colored duct tape.

The view of our library that is in the stone building with the pitched roof, from the elementary campus.


Given our limits on space, scheduling, staffing, and the basic fact that furniture that is right for a 6′ 4″ high school boy is never going to work well for a 3rd grader I have to say that we do pretty amazingly well with our programming. That being said, I decided early on that improving our elementary students’ access to print books was going to be one of the things that I most wanted to improve.

Floating a “Little Idea”

My original idea was for us to purchase books for teachers’ individual classroom libraries. When I floated my little idea with our elementary principal, however, she suggested that we consider building a collection that could be housed in a central area and accessed by multiple classes. In the blink of an eye the idea for an elementary library collection was sown.

Think Big, Then Think Bigger!!!

During budget season, I wrote up a proposal for a one-time infusion of $10,000 specifically to be used to launch an elementary print collection with the hope that I could subsequently get an additional $3000-$5000 added to my budget to maintain and add to it. My hope was to be able to launch a lending collection with enough titles to have sufficient critical mass that students would not be in the position of having browsed and read everything of interest to them after their third visit to the collection and $10,000 seemed like a nice number. Because there is currently no space where an elementary library can be housed permanently, our initial plan is to house the collection on carts that can be moved. $10,000 might seem like a lot of money (and it is), but one of the main drawbacks to life on an island in the middle of the sea is that shipping costs for things like book trucks can be astronomical. Shipping on a $300 truck from a library supplier might easily run us an additional $150+ for shipping.

Embrace Serendipity

The week after my conversation with the elementary principal, I was approached by one of our Mid-Pacific eXploratory (MPX) teachers to ask if we had a use for some book shelves. MPX is a cross-disciplinary project-based learning curriculum into which our 9th and 10th graders may opt.

A defining aspect of the MPX curriculum is that student projects solve real world problems so our high schools students set about solving the Library’s elementary library storage problem. Students interviewed us to assess needs, designed shelves/carts, and learned welding and painting skills as they built our carts–skills that they will continue to improve upon when they design and build electric bicycles in a culminating project on sustainable transportation solutions!

As you might imagine, incorporating student-built carts/shelves required flexibility beyond choosing books trucks out of a catalog, but it was an opportunity to make the library a central part of our students’ learning experience in a non-traditional way, and amazing serendipitous opportunities like those are just too precious to pass up!

Some of our amazing high schoolers presenting their book shelf at an elementary assembly! Photo courtesy: Scot Allen, Mid-Pacific

Choices That Will Scale(?)

Because my elementary budget proposal was written for the 2016-2017 school year and we just could’t wait to begin, we began purchasing some PK-2nd material on a small scale so that we could begin to develop sustainable processes and polices. Among the kinds of things we considered were:

  • How should books be cataloged?
  • How should elementary books be processed before they go onto a cart?
  • How does one create a hidden collection of books that reside in a different space and that won’t show up when patrons search the catalog in the library?
  • Without an elementary librarian, how will the books be checked out?
  • How will we inventory?
  • How long should books be loaned?
  • How will returned books be processed?
  • What happens if a student loses a book?

To keep it short(er), we decided to catalog books with an ELEM prefix in the call number. Add a “Mid-Pacific Elementary Library” stamp with the school address to the title page. Stamp the top and bottom of the book pages with our “Mid-Pacific.” Add a book pocket and check-out card to the back of the book. Catalog the books with an “Elementary Library” material type that is a “hidden collection” in Destiny (thank you to the generous folk on the listserv who helped me figure that piece out). Decided that we’d try self-check out with physical cards. Decided that we would commit an hour of library staff time each afternoon to set-up date due cards, process returned books, and place the books back on carts to be borrowed. Decided that we would inventory books once per quarter to see how we were doing with losses and damaged material. And that we would not charge PK-2 students for lost or damaged books to start.

Good books!
In process!

Expect the Unexpected, but Just Keep Moving Forward

Needless to say, I am HUGELY excited to see our pilot for this initiative coming to fruition. I have to say that the all the moving parts and everything being an unknown is spectacularly un-nerving, but my administrators are excited and supportive so the reality is that my fears are just…fears. In the end, getting more good books into the hands of our youngest readers (Our youngest PK students are in the class of…2030!!! Hahaha!!!) is all that really will really matter in the end.

As much as I love welcoming elementary students into our current library, my dream is that we end up with an elementary collection that is large enough, used enough, and valued enough that the only logical next step will be to build us a space and to bring on a elementary librarian to make the physical space into a real fully-realized elementary library!

Planting a seed in a garden and nurturing it until it blooms or bears fruit is an act of faith. I’m planting the seeds of a library, planning on giving it love and care, and hoping for the best!

Wish us luck!