A second-grade student brought a problem to my attention. He explained that the library collection has only 1 or 2 copies of books on topics that children want to read. He illustrated his point with a poster. It was a portrayal of a boy looking for robot books that were nowhere to be found. We decided to ask all second-grade students to help solve the problem by searching for a topic of interest using the library catalog and determining if there were enough books for them to read.
We started with a lesson on reading the results of a catalog search.
Lesson: Reading Catalog Search Results
- Access to the online library catalog
- Book Request forms
Introduce the lesson by asking students to raise their hand if they ever left the library without a book that they wanted. What happened?
Explain that you would like their help in ordering books on topics that children want to read.
Display the library catalog for everyone to see.
Type a subject in the search bar.
Ask students to look closely at the results. What do they notice? What do they wonder?
Give them some time to study and discuss the results with their neighbors.
What Will They Notice about the Collection?
This is where the children will surprise you. I expected the children to focus on how many copies we have in the library, but they were interested in learning more.
One boy asked about the dates of publication. He noticed that one book was fifteen years old! I asked the class why it’s important to think about the age of a book. One child said you might want to stay away from old books because they are dirty and smelly. Other children concluded that old books meant old news.
I explained that part of my job as a librarian is to consider removing nonfiction books from the collection that are more than 10 years old. I asked if they wanted to help me with my job by reporting the age of the books they find while doing their search. They made quick work of writing their topics of interest and making note of what I should order by considering the availability, the reading levels, and the publication dates.
Dinosaur Books and Fictional Stories
As children worked, we talked about dinosaur books and fictional stories. Should age matter with these books? The children concluded that we don’t have to worry about dinosaur facts unless something new is discovered. They wanted to see the old fiction books to see if they were in good shape.
The children did a fantastic job of researching and analyzing the collection. They took the job seriously because their feedback provided useful information that would positively impact their learning.
Inviting high school students to work with second grade as they look at the aged collection would be beneficial for both age groups. They can help each other think about and research topics to see if facts have changed.
After gathering all of this important information from students, it’s time to search for highly recommended books and prepare a quote. Share the quote with school and district administrators so they can approve the funds needed for personalized learning.
If you need books sooner rather than later, we have found that parents like to help by donating books on our Amazon Wish List. Establishing an Amazon Wish List is easy to do. Books can be added and removed at any time.
Give it a try! What’s the best that can happen?
If you have any ideas for getting children involved in developing the library collection, please share in the comment box!
Author: Maureen Schlosser
I am a certified school librarian who curates picture books and resources for library lessons.