Saturday, December 29, 2012

LibreOffice Labels

I have been using LiberOffice (Verdana, 16, Bold) to generate labels. I created a template and am saving each "as" because at this point I am only cataloging the animal non-fiction, and have not yet begun to blend in my picture books. It will be nice to go back to them to reprint rather than having to retype them all.

I also made up my own "allabout" designator for the books in each section that were about the category and not a specific breed.  We'll see how it goes!

Hi ho it's off to school I go...

So here is my holiday process. I am trying to create resource lists in the catalog for each topic. I then print the list and create the labels. I am making pile for the (hopefully) eager group of teens that will join me New Year's day to afix them, along with the category label and a protector.

It is surprisingly easy to sort by topic, and I am amazed at how screwy Dewey has been for my students. So much shelving effort! (I suppose I should be worried about my ability to justify an aide after this, but I am not...)

I began to just sort and create labels, but need to go back and create the resource list. Without them, unfortunately, Destiny will not sort, as I discovered with the Geologist "K SCIENTIST" title. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Destiny Epiphany!

I just catalogued a book about Geologists in K SCIENTIST... I wanted it with other community jobs rather than in rocks. When my volunteer searched for the book about "scientists", it did not turn up because the word "scientist" is not in the MARC record for this particular book... so I called Follett. The search that I can do could find it by call number, but my students do not have (nor do I want them to have) this capability. We came up with an even better method, once my collection is catalogued for this! It involves using Visual Search. I create a Public Resource List for the new METIS call number (K SCIENTIST) then in the Catalog Search Setup, select the action to link it to the Public List I had created! Giddy, here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reading nooks!

Kids are finding all kinds of interesting places to read as we reorganize the collection!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chickens and horses and cows, oh my!

So I'm cataloguing the F section which is Pets and the Metis librarians in NYC have farm animals clumped into one section, and it made me laugh. I have about 30 chicken books, alone, as well as books about yaks, sheep, cows and multiple kinds of horses. The beauty of this system is that it can represent an individual collection. I can categorize each of my chicken books by breed if I want!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

PB and J or J and PB?

There are two ways to proceed with Metis: the first is to pull the books off the shelves Dewey order and recategorize them in Metis. The second option is to pull the titles from Metis categories and consolidate the shelves as i go.

I have chosen the first strategy and I'm finding that as I recatalogue Dewey titles into Metis, the process goes faster.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I have created bookmarks for my students to introduce the concept of METIS and to help prepare them for this transition. Our habits of finding things by location will be thoroughly altered as this rolls out. I assured them that we were doing this in pieces and were trying to be systematic, but change can be messy, just like research! We will always find what they are looking for, but it may be a little bumpy for a while.

I offered them the example of the Military dog book with the tank on the cover and asked... B Machines Military?, F Pets Dogs??, or K Community Military??? I loved the discussion! The bottom, line, even if we do not find the perfect spot for everything, my students are helping make the decisions.

I am giddy with excitement and enthusiasm and cannot get this done fast enough!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Step Ahead

Parts of this process are not graceful! I have several reliable volunteers who come in every week to pull, label, or change the spine labels for titles I have identified as "Next" in this process (usually because they are popular, but sometimes because I need to move them for another part of the collection).

I am struggling in keeping one step in front of my dutiful volunteers!

Since they each know different parts of the process, they each need a little work station (space is at a bit of a premium) with individualized supplies. The flow is clumsy and communication unreliable.  I want a separate work room to pile, sort, and process in order and with completion! Kids were making book choices off the processing cart today... While I am always pleased to check out any book to a child, I feel like it would be so much more efficient to complete the 3-4 things that have to happen to each book in one sitting. Realistic?? Is this how I should spend next summer?? Maybe this organized chaos is part of the beauty of the transition to METIS and I am missing it completely? Do I need to do another training and expand the breadth of their understanding so they will function more independently? YIKES!

For now, baby steps. I am not identifying new areas until the 5-6 we have started are more complete. I will create communication systems with my volunteers so I can know where they left off. (I have a big notebook, but it is cumbersome)... Keeping everyone (including the many OTHER volunteers that wander through up to speed is tricky, too-- they all are not reading this blog)... but maybe this signage will help!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I was reminded today of my first years as a librarian and how I spent so many Saturdays moving things around to make them more accessible for my young patrons. This mornings adventures included beginning the alphabetization by METIS category, and creating a wall for the folks who work in the library, for teachers, and older students to begin to see the big picture. It will serve as quick reference and a guide organizationally for our progress.

I suspect that over the next few months as I assure buy-in, I will have support and understanding when large shifts are made. Worried resisters of change will ask, "But what about the military dog book with the tank on the cover???"and I am sweetly replying "Let's ask the kids".

For now, I need road maps, bookmarks or signage to help my volunteers put things away, and easily identifiable markers to point to ("Scary? See the big 'U'?").

Organizationally, based on the current arrangement of the room, I have decided to work from now on primarily alphabetically. I will be initially pulling form the Non Fiction and will blend in Picture books as I get to them.


Next? D NATURE. For the record, I never turn away volunteers and if you want to be a part of this effort, jump in.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

True v. Not ture

I was always challenged in putting tooth fairy, santa and leprechaun books in with fantasy-- telling a second grader Santa was not real has never been comfortable. Now that we have labels to designate true/not true so clearly, I am still concerned. There may be some categories I avoid...

In the meantime I am excited that the second phase of the re-cataloging is about to launch: the labels are here (green=true, red=fake)! METIS includes a designation sticker for true/not true books. I am likely NOT going to do this for the whole collection, but in may sections it will be useful. As I explain the process to teachers, I have even had several ask... "Can we help?". Kids are taught to determine between fact and fiction and what better opportunity to get 'er done?! I am plotting the layout: stations, a pile of books, a sticker station, an "i dunno" table, a label protector station, shelvers. Aahhhh, ti's all coming together.


I have always loved the signage opportunities in the library. I have celebrated creating an organizational system that would work for my students. Before I killed Dewey, I used empty video boxes to identify each section. Aside from the regular question "Can I take out this movie?", they have served us well.

Anything with a number was true (I even had 741, 398.2 and 811 in separate sections to assist in the instrucion around informational texts. "Everything on that wall is true".

Buckets, buckets, buckets...

I have used white dish tubs to organize the picture books in the library by author. As we launch into this new way of organization, I though the buckets could be re-purposed for the new system.... so this morning I moved all 4000 picture books onto shelves and have started gathering the METIS buckets on top... two systems for a while. It will be a miracle if I do not send anyone who works in this room over the edge.

As I rounded the corner, dumping buckets, I started paying attention to titles... "Oh, this is 'O CHRISTMAS'; this is 'U SCARY TALES' and this is 'P GOOSE'". Some of these decisions are intuitive and will come naturally. Others, I am sure, and as others have warned will cause angst. For now, the simple, the clear, the obvious.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plugging away...

We have only tackled a few sections at this point... B - Machines ("I want a truck book" now results in a finger point to the B Buckets. The folks doing circulation are poised to snatch stragglers-- this has become a cumbersome part of the project: we batch process large numbers initially, and are now dealing with dribble of books each needing individual processing.

Some distinctions have been tricky-- "Military" Dogs with a tank on the cover-- B for Machines? K for Community Helpers?? Animal Books??? Every person I asked (Principal, Art teacher, child, Library assistant) gave me a different answer. Herein lies the challenge and the excitement: It doesn't matter! I need to see this system through the lens of my students and wherever we decide, the book will be accessible through the catalog.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Day

The possibilities for this library to function intuitively is very exciting. Every time a class comes in I spend my time running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to find the books students are looking for. The potential of answering the question"I want a truck book" by pointing to a section is VERY exciting.
We have gathered what I thought were all the truck books but forgot about biographies! Now all the NASCAR drivers are there, too! This makes so much sense.
It's time to begin working on our Halloween books... I cant wait for all the labels to get here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's feeling manageable...

I have been chatting with one of the fabulous librarians (Tali Balas Kaplan, Andrea Dolloff, Sue Giffard, & Jennifer Still-Schiff at Ethical Culture School in New York City) about procedure. They used Avery 5160, bought a case of label protectors from Demco and did all their signage at once. The labels, 39,000 of them for our collection, will cost a couple hundred. I may need to wait for the book fair to fund this in its entirety!

I am also thoroughly indebted to the volunteers Wanda, Marietta, Annie, Christine, and Roland for their flexibility, blind faith and thoughtfulness about the process... Dave, as always, is keeping the circulation desk functioning in quiet order amid the chaos I have created.

Monday, October 22, 2012


We have ordered some labels from metisinnovations, as well as labels for our label maker. I still need to buy the red/blue dots for fic/nonfic. It is costlier than I anticipated (I figured every label will be about 2 inches, in 23 feet of label on a roll and 13,000 books in the collection.... that I will need many, many rolls of labels.

I may need to wait until the book fair to buy the next round of supplies...

Baby Steps

We have a notebook which is organized by categories. I am printing lists from the library catalog and editing them title by title for the volunteers and library staff who are pulling, re-labelling, and changing the records. It is very tricky to do while school is in session, but I have an amazing group pf supporters who have been willing to blindly follow my lead and seem committed to the process.

I began with the sections students aks for the most, like truck books. We pull, relabel and change the records. It is always an exercise in balancing what we know about our patrons with what makes sense.

The children here are young and many are not yet reading well. Multiple categories may make the system more cumbersome. Clumping dirt bikes with motorcycles, for example, seems to make sense for now. 

It is October, so after the vehicles we began looking for holiday books. I had a volunteer, but you could use a class of students, go through the picture books and pull anything with a holiday v. seasonal cover (Christmas tree, ghost, valentine, pilgrim). The piles accumulated very quickly, but we have a separate work space and seem to be managing.

METIS Schedules

Here is the plan...

Dewey dies...

This is where it started for me:

Why We Don't Dewey

Published on MUSINGS on METIS | shared via feedly mobile
When we four librarians gathered in the library office just over a year ago to watch the Darien Public Library's Powerpoint about their new system for their preschool section, it didn't take long for us to make the leap to deciding that we wanted to do something similar, but for PreK-5th grade. For anyone watching, their reaction might have been surprise at our willingness, scratch that: enthusiasm, in dispensing with the Dewey Decimal Classification System with such rapidity. The truth is that we, like many librarians, had been dissatisfied with Dewey for many years.
What was it that we disliked so much? Even if we disliked it, surely a system which has been tried and tested, is almost universally used in school libraries, and is seen as an essential part of running a library in a professional way, would be preferable to anything that we could come up with. Not so, we were quick to argue.
Here’s why.
The purpose of the Dewey system is to pinpoint as closely as possible the subject or topic covered by the book. The number generated, combined with the “cutter,” (usually the first three letters of the author’s last name), provides an almost unique call number, which enables the person searching for a particular book to identify the book quickly, assuming that you first searched the catalog and found the call number, then were able to located that call number’s place in the sequence of books on the shelves and third, that the book was in the correct place in the sequence. These are pretty big assumptions, especially when the majority of your users are in the second grade or below.

PROBLEM 1: Division by Discipline. Dewey divides the universe of knowledge into ten main classes. This division is predominantly by discipline. You can see the division by discipline clearly in the 300s, the Social Sciences main class. For example, 306 is the number for Culture and Institutions. Under this one finds all kinds of institutions, including religious institutions, political institutions, family, sexual relationships, etc. When last did an 8-year-old show an interest in “institutions” as a topic? Maybe it doesn’t matter too much if you’re only interested in providing access through specific catalog searches, and all of your users are going to be looking for books with a call number in hand. The truth is that most of our users are browsing: looking along the shelves for interesting or useful books. That means that we want to put related books together as much as possible. This simply isn’t served by putting books about political institutions next to books about family structures on the one hand, but separating books about kids’ feelings about their families in one main class from the books about family structures in another.

Dewey simply doesn’t group books on related topics from a child’s point of view. For example, non-domestic animals and pets are separated on the shelves by the topics of: inventors; the human body and medicine; engineering; various kinds of transportation, including space travel; robots; and gardening and farming. As another example, sewing and knitting are in different main classes. I could go on and on.

PROBLEM 2: Bias. The Dewey system was invented by an American steeped in the Western intellectual and cultural assumptions of the 19th century. Despite many changes and updates, the basic structure remains. For example, Christianity takes up no less than 70% of the 200s Religion main class, leaving Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism all with numbers on the far side of the decimal point.

PROBLEM 3: Numerical Code. For children, this may be the biggest barrier to access caused by Dewey.
First, the code is opaque and far too complex to teach in detail to students. We teach that the 700s are Arts and Recreation, including sports, and then we expect students to find baseball books at 796.357, or football books at 796.334.
Second, while some numbers are fairly short (3 or 4 digits), most are longer. A book on lions has a number that is 7 digits long (599.7442); a book of folk tales from Vietnam, if one has a substantial collection and subdivides by country, has a 9 digit number, almost a phone number and area code (398.209597).
Third, there’s the decimal aspect, which is there, it seems, simply because Melvil Dewey loved decimals. Students learn about decimals in math only in third or fourth grade, i.e. more than half of our students have not learned about decimals.
Fourth, to add insult to injury, in order to find a book on the shelf students must be able to put decimal numbers of up to 6 numbers to the right of the decimal point IN ORDER. Or, rather, be able to insert a decimal number on a slip of paper in their hand into the order on the shelves. Libraries are the only place in the universe that I’m aware of that require this particular skill. Enough said.

All in all, we had become convinced over the years that Dewey, rather than enabling our students to find what they needed, created barriers for them. It sometimes seemed that our students found what they wanted despite Dewey rather than because of it. We wanted to believe that it was possible to do better.
When we saw the inspiring example of the librarians in Darien creating a system with preschool children and their needs at its center, we began to believe for the first time that we could do something similar for our students.

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