Monday, August 20, 2018

An Easy Way to Keep Track of New Books

It seems there is no end to the list of new books that are released by publishers each month. On top of being a literacy specialist, teacher librarians also must manage the facility and student visitors, collaborate, create programming, market library services, serve as school technology support, and many other duties. If you have found it a challenge to keep up with new books as a result of these numerous job tasks, I want to share a simple way that changed our practice in the school library last year.

The Struggle

I find it difficult to read as a result of the many daily tasks I experience as a teacher librarian. This is a fact I have worried about for several years. I've been working hard over the summer to read more, and I'm very proud to say that this will be a continuing priority for the new school year. The simple fact is that it is impossible to "sell" students on book titles if we can't speak about them with knowledge and passion! There is something very powerful about telling a student about a book that we have read and love. It is one of our most important tasks. We have used Junior Library Guild as a means of receiving new YA fiction titles for many years. In addition, we order books that are popular. We also make an effort to order appropriate titles that students and teachers request. But the question remains: "How do we truly know our book inventory?"

Google Docs to the Rescue

Last summer, I decided to use Google Docs as a way to record all our new incoming titles. I thought this could be a resource for placing the title and a brief summary of all the new titles we place in the collection. Kaitlyn Price, the co-librarian I work with at Lakeside High School, agreed that we could use this document in many ways. She and I both decided to sit down each month when book orders arrived and handle each book. We made this a regular practice throughout the school year. We decided to put the title, call number, genre, and summary information in each entry. While reviewing each title, we try to read a few chapters of the book in addition to the summary.

While this didn't help me memorize each title, I certainly had a much better handle on new titles each month. In addition, I could pull up the Google Doc at any time and do a search for any word in the document. This was especially helpful for titles that I couldn't remember. I may not recall the title, but I could enter a keyword in the find tool for the document and usually locate the book in question.

I have included links to the new title documents from last school year and our new one for 2018-2019 below.

Our Doc from 2017-2018

Our Doc from 2018-2019

Next Steps

This method may not be for everyone, but it has certainly helped us do a much better job of becoming familiar with new titles in the library. It has also been a great document that we can share with teachers that might be interested in new titles. We have also shared it with our most avid readers so they can see what new titles have come in. We plan to continue this practice each month during this school year!

In my next blog article,  I'll plan to show some of our monthly newsletter examples and how we share them with students. I hope these short "hacks" help you improve your service to students and teachers.

Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
Social Studies Maker Project Part 1

Social Studies Maker Project Part 2

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  1. Hi Stony. Do you catalog your new books, or you have a cataloguer at the district level? Because for us, one way of getting up to speed with the new arrivals, was while cataloguing the books. I am based in Spain, so many of the Spanish books we can´t copy them from a zsource. We made an effort to catalog them thoroughfully though, including a summary and useful subject headings. We took the time to upload the cover if it wasn´t available on the copy cataloguing. We made sure to add each book to a list called "New arrivals". That way we as librarians, students and teachers could browse the catalog and get a better use of it. We use Destiny from Follett where users can also rate and review books. Cataloguing was time consuming but we thought that it was worth it. It was a good way of getting acquaintance with the book since you have to hold the physical copy, skim it and think about the best subject headings, and also write a summary and or review of it. It also made our OPAC more attractive and useful for everybody.

    Thanks for your post! It made me revisit the never ending quest of how to keep up with information.

    1. Pia, I love the idea about making a new arrivals list! I bet your users really enjoy seeing what’s new all in one place! Also, we pay for cataloging since we have so many jobs (like tech support) in the building. In my first library job, I cataloged myself and it made a huge difference in my familiarity with new titles. Thank you so much for these comments, friend. I hope you have a great year!

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