Keeping up with the Computers

It’s the end of the year, and I feel fine. I love my job, but I’m also excited about summer break. Less exciting are the end-of-year procedures I need to complete before I start my break, and even though these tasks aren’t glamorous, and I’m a pretty messy librarian, I really love these brief moments of library super organization right when school ends and right when it begins again after summer.

By this point, we’ve completed our major standardized testing, and the school is starting to vibrate with end-of-the-year excitement. Everyone is in a good mood, and I get to see all the books that have been checked out and revisit overlooked ones languishing in nonfiction. I get to do library stuff like look back over the year and decide what worked and what parts of the library need to be changed or updated.

One aspect of our library undergoing an overhaul is how we manage our technology. We have 9 complete COWS, 5 Dell laptops, and 4 ChromeBooks. We have 4 new empty carts to be filled with ChromeBooks stacked in our library office, 2 Apple labs, and a small set of iPads.

Our policies feel dated and we’re seeing problems like:

  • Teachers aren’t signing out specific computers/iPads to specific students, because it takes too much classroom time. If something is broken like a key or screen, teachers don’t know which student had the device or even what period the incident occurred. 

  • COWS are returned to the library after school, but either computers are not plugged into chargers inside the cart or the entire cart has not been plugged into an outlet to charge. 

  • Teachers do not return the COWS hoping to maybe keep it another day. This means we spend the morning tracking down a COW instead of helping students before school starts.

  • Computer labs are routinely left with trash on the floor and in general disarray. This is minor, but it perpetuates a culture of disrespect for our resources.

Organized iPads

iPads returned after being checked out

In an attempt to get some control over our expanding technology, we’ve turned to the teacher hive mind and asked them for some feedback. We created a Google survey with questions like:

  1. How do you keep track of who is using which device?
  2. If keys are missing from a keyboard, could you identify with reasonable accuracy which students used that keyboard on a certain day?
  3. If you returned a COW to the library and did not plug it into charge for the next person using it, how would you like us to address this with you?
  4. Would it be helpful to have a list of technology rules in the teacher handbook to be addressed during the first meeting of the school year?

Once we’ve analyzed our responses, we’re going to present the information to our administration and recommend including technology in our teacher handbook and making a small presentation regarding accountability and computer usage.

Ultimately, we’re trying to ensure our resources stay accessible, while dealing with our own accountability issues. If there is an issue with technology, we, the librarians, are held somewhat responsible. When we just had a few computers, it was easy to manage. Now that we have a fleet of COWS along with labs and iPads, crossing our fingers and hoping nothing bad happens isn’t going to cut it.

We saved this project to complete along with our regular closing procedures with the hope of implementing a better system this fall. We thought it might be asking too much of staff to change the process in the middle of the school year. Starting fresh this fall gives everyone the chance to form good habits as opposed to correcting the behavior mid-year.

I’m sure there are other librarians in charge of technology. As librarians do we feel pressure to manage technology to stay relevant, or do we like being the gatekeepers of this resource? I’m curious to find out how others balance enforcing rules with staff and keeping a positive working relationship in the school. 

Author: Mica Johnson

I’m a school librarian at Farragut Middle. I like the lib to be loud, messy, and full of student activity. I love tech stuff as much as I love books, and I’m part of an awesome rotating maker space.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Technology

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