Friday, August 31, 2012

Adding Mackin VIA To Destiny's Visual Search Brings Success and Fun To The Library!

I love finding ways that will make all of our resources within the libraries and online more accessible to our students, teachers, and families.  
Over the last few weeks, I have created several places for this to happen.  

One of my favorite places to share resources is within our new Symbaloo webmixes.  The VM Library Resources Symbaloo holds links to all of our resources such as the Iowa AEA Online resources, several Web 2.0 tools, our eBooks in Mackin VIA, the Van Meter School website, and of course the Van Meter Library Google sites and blogs.  
Symbaloo even has this amazing new app that you can pick up for free in the iTunes Store.  They love using the Symbaloo app on our iTouches in the library and their own devices that they may bring each week too.  
We are finding all kinds of apps and creating widgets from other websites to add to our devices and put "the library in our pockets." As I said in the post, "By suggesting to our students apps and resources that they could add to their own personal devices, we are giving them access to tools that they may need to be productive and successful collaborators, creators, and connectors." 
Then I started thinking about giving everyone even more access within Follet's Destiny, our circulation system at Van Meter.  Last May I added all of the MARC records for the eBooks into Destiny making them searchable along with all of the print resources we have in our collections.   
I even added a scrolling marque to the front page of our Destiny to announce this to everyone.  

What else could I do? 

How about adding a Mackin VIA widget inside of the Visual Search feature within Destiny?  I had never modified or added anything to the visual search, but I was pretty sure I could figure it out and that it would be a success.  

And I was right!  
I logged into Destiny as the administrator.  I went to the "Catalog" tab, down to "Search Setup."  I was within the "Visual Search" tab. 

Once I was there, I filled in the fields it was asking me to such as "Name" and "Website URL."  
I was even able to add an image, so I added a screen shot I took of Mackin VIA.  
After I saved the information, I checked to make sure Mackin VIA was saved within the "Visual Search Home" list.
 It was!  From here, I could always "Edit" the Mackin VIA search if I needed to.
Now within the middle of the icons there is also a Mackin VIA icon, which takes our patrons straight to the Mackin VIA website into our eBook collection.
I was so excited to check out both places to conduct a visual search within our Destiny...Destiny and Destiny Quest.

Our students find the visual search feature FUN within Destiny....anything to encourage reading and bring excitement to learning.  By adding Mackin VIA to our visual search today I have given everyone at Van Meter one more way to be successful at finding the resources that they want and need.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Library After The First Week Of Being Dewey Free

As you heard from listening to Maddy, making a few changes in our library over the summer has made quite the difference for her and all of her friends at Van Meter.

We have now had over a week back at school and time spent in the Van Meter Elementary Library.  The students have been learning about the new organization of the nonfiction and life without Dewey. Remember We Spiced Up The Shelves....And Ditched The was now time to observe the change it would bring.

I have loved every minute of watching the excitement as our students go to the shelves to find books matching their interests and discovering subjects and books they never even knew we had.
I have enjoyed seeing all of the nonfiction books opened around the library....And the students sharing things from inside the pages with their friends.  
But here is where we can really see that the new organization of our library has made a difference.  

When I went into "Reports" within Destiny, I was able to run reports for each day during the first week of classes last year and compared them to this years first week.  

The report above is from the first day of school in 2011.  There were 128 books checked out, but none of these books were out of the Dewey Decimal neighborhoods.  A lot of the students were from younger grades....first and second grade, and fifth grade.  In the past, our kindergarten and first grade students didn't check out nonfiction right away...we always did a few activities to introduce the different neighborhoods.  Even then, I found them drawn to the "Everybody" or picture books, books they were familiar with, that they knew they would like to read.  Before the weeding and reorganization of our collection, the nonfiction shelves were perhaps a little too overwhelming.  Not just to the younger students, but to all of our students and teachers.  

Another observation I have made over the years is that the students who check out nonfiction always go to the same Dewey Decimal neighborhood.  For example, the students who like checking out War books go immediately to that section in the 900's.  The ones who love books about Aliens to the 000's.  They didn't seem to venture into the other neighborhoods unless they were doing research for a project.  

This year I introduced nonfiction the very first day to the first graders and to the kindergarden students on their second visit to the library.  By showing them the different sections and how the subjects were clearly marked on the shelves, they were able to understand how it was organized right away.  The colored dots on the spine labels also made a huge difference.  I cannot wait to add the subject (with the word and an image of that subject) labels to the top of the books too.  This will be really helpful to them as well.  
77 nonfiction books were checked out on the first day of school this year!  I saw kindergarten, second and fourth grade on that day.  I was so excited to see those numbers!  And I was also excited to hear comments like, "I had no idea we have so many books about the Titanic!", "I got a book about Oceans and one about Wetlands", and "Mrs. Miller, I found a book about speaking Spanish and sign language today."  

And the totals for the first week of school was also a clear sign that this move was for the best. 

In 2011, there were 594 books checked out during the first week and 803 books were checked out this year.  This was awesome to see!  The students were able to see what was on the shelves now so much better and wanted to check out more and more books each time they came to visit the library.  
Another reason this reorganization is so exciting for all of us at Van Meter is our "Spice Up The Shelves" project (You can read about it in our Smore "Van Meter Library Monthly" newsletter).  
Greta and all of her friends have been so excited to read and check out all of the new nonfiction books that we are putting in our library.  Over the next two weeks we will be adding 800 new books...I can't wait to see what a difference this will make too.
Our students are having a great time finding the brand new books on the shelves to take home and read. 
The next step is getting our "Spice Up The Shelves" Funds4Books campaign started.  With the help of Mackin, we will create an exciting Funds4Books campaign that will raise money to bring even more wonderful books to the shelves and into the hands of our young people at Van Meter.

I can't wait to really start looking into individual check-outs for the students and grade levels.

By ditching the Dewey and adopting the book-store model of classification within our library, we are going to bring so much more to our students within the library this year.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We Put The "Library In Our Pockets" at Van Meter This Week

Last spring, my friends Michelle Luhtala, Joyce Valenza, and I were talking about the whole idea of "putting the library in your pocket."  By suggesting to our students apps and resources that they could add to their own personal devices, we are giving them access to tools that they may need to be productive and successful collaborators, creators and connectors.  

Over the last week, I helped the students and teachers at Van Meter put the "library in their pockets."  

In the secondary, I worked with two of our new English teachers, Jessica Rabe and Renee Martin.  Every hour throughout the day, they brought their two classes into the library for a short library orientation and introduction to putting the "library in their pockets."  By meeting with these classes, we were able to see almost every student.  

I created a folder on my iPhone called "Library In Pocket" and filled it with great apps that I knew our secondary students would find helpful.  The folder contained the Destiny Quest app so they can search our library collections at Van Meter; YALSA's new Teen Book Finder app, EasyBib, StudyBlue, Rosen's Teen Hotlines, Evernote, SymbalooEdu, a QR Code Reader, and two databases we have through Heartland AEA....Britannica and Gale's "My School" app.  

I also showed them that I added "Mackin VIA" as a widget to my home screen and then moved it into the "Library In Pocket" folder.  They could do this with any website they use and would like to keep handy within their folder.  For a lot of them, this was the first time they had seen that trick.  

And to make it a little easier, I created three QR Codes that they could scan with their device.  By scanning these it would take them directly to the website (Mackin VIA, Van Meter Library Voice, and Iowa AEA Resources).  From there they would create each widget.  

I created a Google Doc called "Library In Your Pocket" for Jessica and Renee to share with all of our secondary students.  They emailed it to their students before the orientation and I encouraged them to refer back to it as they added these apps and widgets to their devices too. We also hung up posters in the library, hallway and in the classrooms for quick reference.  Please feel free to use any of this as you wish.  
In the elementary, I started the "Library In Your Pocket" campaign during our "Back To School" open house two weeks ago.  I created these posters and hung them around the library and school.  I also made several copies and laminated each one before laying them out on the tables around the library and computer lab.
I even made a few black and white copies for students and parents to pick up that night....and they did.  I had a few parents tell me that they were going to create widgets for the different sites right on their iPads for their children to use.  I showed them how to download a QR code reader and then how to scan the different codes.  This really encouraged great conversations with parents before the school year even began....which I loved!
I also created a Google Doc called "Elementary Library In Your Pocket and Websites of QR Codes". By creating these posters of apps and QR codes within Google Docs, it allows me to share it easily not just at school, but also at home and globally as well.
As you can see, the secondary and elementary "Library In Pocket" folders only differ slightly.
During library and technology time throughout the week, the elementary students would take their devices to search the app store for the ones on the posters or scan the QR codes to go directly to the websites that were found within each.   

As the apps were found in the Store, the students would get them loaded onto their iTouches or other device.  
 I really loved seeing how great they worked together during this process.
The students would either add the apps or create widgets from the QR codes they were scanning.  Two that they all added were the Little Van Meter Voice Google Site ( and the Mackin VIA website.

After they had a few added to their home screen, the students would create their "Library In Pocket" folders.
They now had a wonderful start to great resources that will be used throughout the year at school and at home.  As the year goes on, I will continue to highlight helpful apps and add them to my iPhone "Library In Pocket" folder and to the Google Doc's I mentioned above.

What a fun way to start the year....

seeing the students with the "Library In Their Pockets" was definitely one of my favorite days in the library so far, too.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Look How We Are Using Symbaloo To Collect and Share Our Favorite Websites and Resources

I have loved Symbaloo since I learned about it a few years ago.  It is one of my favorite tools to use.  I just love how easy it is to create "webmixes" with all kinds of fun tiles which link to individual websites.

And of course I love how Symbaloo is also a social network....we can share the webmixes with one another and add them to our own account as well.

We have used it at Van Meter in different classes and there have been students that have used it personally, bu this year I wanted to integrate it even more into our school community.

I have created a Symbaloo Webmix called "VM Library Resources" (the image of the webmix is above).  The webmix contains the Van Meter Library Site, Destiny, Mackin VIA, and the Iowa AEA Online Resources like Britannica, iClipArt, and CultureGrams.  There are reading sites, Web 2.0 tools, digital citizenship sites like Professor Garfield and NetSmartz, and lots of fun websites for our students.
Not only did I share it with our school community in emails, teacher newsletters, the Van Meter Library VOICE and Van Meter Schools Facebook pages, and on the Van Meter Library Google Site, I also set it for the homepage on all of the desktops in the computer lab.  It was the perfect place to teach my students about Symbaloo and how it worked.  

And they all loved it!  The students thought it was fun, easy to use, and had lots of suggestions for new tiles.  

The next step....helping the teachers get their classroom computers set up with Symbaloo as their homepage.  I have already met with the kindergarten teachers and they have even created their own webmixes that they are adding resources to.  
For more information about Symbaloo and the new app that is now available, please check out my other post, Symbaloo...A Fun Way To Search, Bookmark, and Share Your Favorite Sites.

And below is the VM Library Resources webmix....

which is easy to embed with the HTML code included on each one.

Have fun trying out our webmix and create one of your own.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We Added A Little "Spice" To Back-To-School Open House This Year!

On Monday, we invited our friends at Van Meter into the library during Back-To-School Open House to see something a little special.

We have brought a little "SPICE" into the library over the summer for our students, teachers, and school community.  You can read more about the project in the post, "We Spiced Up The Shelves....And Ditched The Dewey."  This project is going to make a difference in the lives of so many  by bringing new classifications, over 800 new print books and eBooks, and a new way of looking at the choosing books, browsing books, and the library as a whole.
In the Van Meter Library Voice Monthly (created using Smore), I told the story of "The Love Behind The 'Spice Up The Shelves' Project".  At our open house, Greta and her mom Jennifer loved seeing what a difference this project has brought to our library.  It will always be a special place for the two of them and all of us to remember Alex and his love for reading, books, spices, travel, cooking, and education.  
The shelves are really SPICED up and look so amazing!  Diana did just a wonderful job getting everything ready for the open house and school year.
We have only opened up two boxes of the new books from Mackin, and were so excited as we pulled each one out.  The students are going to love them too.
As I said in the newsletter, Greta chose a lot of books that were personal to her and her dad, Alex.  Iceland is a place where Alex had traveled, so she made sure there was definitely a new book for the library.
The "Spice Up The Shelves" Open House posters were hung all around the school.  After I created the little spice containers with the "Van Meter Library Shelf Spice" labels, I took photos and edited them in PicMonkey (which is a free online photo editing tool).  I then used Pages to create the posters.
I also put the "Van Meter Library Shelf Spice" containers around the library to add a little more spice to the shelves.
Since I had a lot of parents visited during the open house, I made sure to have places that they could go to connect with the library outside of school as well by creating a flyer with QR codes. I want parents to be able to access the Iowa AEA Online Resources such as Gale, iClipArt, Britannia, BookFlix, TrueFlix, and all of the eBooks that we have now in Mackin VIA.  By scanning the QR codes and having the username and passwords to these resources, they were able to see them quick during the open house. It gave me an opportunity to not only show them how to use QR codes and get to the sites, but also to explain the different resources as well.  They took these home for a quick and easy way to access them there too.

And by giving them links to the Little Van Meter Library Google Site and the Van Meter Library Voice blog, I am giving them one more way to connect with the library, resources, and me.  Parents appreciate this access and information so they can support their children in the best possible way at home as well as at school.
I created this fun little poster and handout called "Put the Library In Your Pocket".  I added several apps that our students, teachers, and families will find useful to have downloaded onto their devices to the "Library In Pocket" folder on my iPhone.  I then took a screen shot of that folder open and made it into a poster.  So now they can take a quick look and add apps such as Destiny Quest, EasyBib, a QR code reader app, StudyBlue, SymbalooEdu, and a few more.  This folder will grow, but this is a nice place for everyone to start.   I have posted these in the library and around school as well. 
I also created a schedule for the elementary and secondary library.  I listed all open library times and scheduled library times.  Every classroom and office in the school has one, so everyone knows what is happening in the libraries all of the time. 
When everyone left the library they saw a new display.  It now says in big black letters, "Where In The World Are We Connecting?"  This will show all of the connections with schools, students, authors, and others we will have throughout the year. There are already a few things around the map from last year like: the peach we rolled around the world, even to Budapest; a holiday card from our friends in Australia; and one from friends in Ireland.  I cannot wait to see how this display will fill up as we start connecting right away to others around the world.
So as you can see, the "Spice Up The Shelves" Open House was a very success night with lots of old friends and plenty of new ones too.  
It was so much fun to see all of the little people come in and try out the new couch, too.

I can't wait to see what the students think about the "new" collection and how we spiced it up!