I’m very pleased to share with you all my end of year/annual report for the 2015-2016 year here at Chattahoochee High School. As many of you know, I used Picktochart for my first ever midyear report, but I decided to go with Google Presentations/Slides for this end of year document. The slideshow features instructional/programming highlights, important data points, and a glimpse of the future of our physical space (including an embedded video!) as well as the vision for our role in the Hooch Learning Community. I created all my graphics with either Canva or PowerPoint.
Last fall, I was desperate for a robust library attendance management system. As soon as I appealed to my friends on Twitter for help, fellow school librarian Margaux DelGuidice immediately responded and recommended we try LibraryTrac. I was immediately sold and signed up right away. Since November 2015, many of you have heard me sing the praises of LibraryTrac, a tool that has streamlined our attendance sign-in process for our library while giving us the ability to not only track student visits but other kinds of data related to student use of the library as well. Here is how Scott Allen, owner and developer of LibraryTrac, describes the service:
LibraryTrac is an application that allows libraries/media centers to keep track of their daily users and why those users are coming to use the library. The application allows librarians to designate reasons for using the library, as well as document what teacher students are coming from. It allows librarians to collect and analyze logged in user statistics. A librarian can view the amount of users over a period of time, in addition to particular days. If reasons for using the library are created, statistics will be generated to show how many users were in the library for those reasons during a a time period. Furthermore, librarians can create scheduled time frames to keep statistical data for by setting up pre-determined start and end times.
Not only can students sign in on multiple workstations with synchronized data, but they can even sign in using an easy to generate QR code. The platform is easy to use, and tech support is always just an email away. My wonderful library assistant, Carol Olson, says, “I love LibraryTrac. The learning curve for staff is gentle, and it’s simple for the kids to use as well.” You can configure your reasons to meet your library’s needs and then collect data on how students are using the library throughout the data. Here is a sample report I’ve just run today that gives you an idea of how students have been using our library since November 2015:
As you can see, the majority of our students (nearly 20,000 since we started using the application in mid-November 2015!) come for quiet study or to work on an assignment/homework individually. This kind of data obviously informs how we will think about student needs for space, furniture, programming, and services in 2016-2017.
Our teachers and administrators love that LibraryTrac provides accountability for student visits as we can easily check who has visited us and when; you can also provide teachers the ability to check this data with a password protected link.
If you are interested in trying out LibraryTrac at no charge for the remaining days of this 2015-16 school year, Scott Allen is offering a free trial at this time! You can contact him with the information in the flyer included in this post.
My friend and former Norcross High colleague Jennifer Lund and I attended the Southeastern Library Assessment Conference on November 16 that was held at the historic Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Though we were probably the only school librarians there, we felt welcome and gleaned many pearls of wisdom from the sessions we attended. I was sadly only able to attend Day 1 (Monday, 11/16) due to district meetings I needed to attend on the second day (11/17), but I got MORE than my money’s worth from the sessions I attended. I highly recommend this conference if you are looking for smart, thoughtful perspectives that are grounded in evidence based practice and data collection with integrity. The conference was limited to 125 people and had a pleasant, intimate feel; in addition, we were served a gourmet lunch buffet (it was fabulous) and many delicious amenities throughout the day (Starbucks coffee, tea, water, sodas, cookies). Many thanks to the conference organizers who did a fantastic job with every aspect of the conference—it is by far one of the best and most meaningful conference experiences I’ve had in my career—every session had substance.
This is the first in a series of posts on the sessions Jennifer and I attended on Monday, November 16, 2015.
Space Assessment: How They Use It, What They Want, Sara DeWaay, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Session Description: Getting student input on the library space can be a multi-layered effort. Come hear about the methods used to get an understanding of use patterns, as well as the students’ desires for a small branch library, as we work to transition towards a flexible space.
The emphasis was on users and feedback from students; Sara thought about the feedback in terms of “low cost easy” vs. “high cost hard” solutions and ideas from the students. When she began the group study, she thought of the library space in zones: group study, circulation area, lounge, quiet study, flexible, and creativity. She began by doing a literature review on space assessment, and she focused on both qualitative and quantitative assessment methods. She also looked at space assessment from a “before” and “afterwards” perspective since assessment should continue after the space remodel or redesign is initially completed. She also did research on user centered design. She formed a Student Advisory group; positive aspects of this group included input, support, connection, and ownership for the students, but challenges were maintaining momentum and a sustained sense of meaningfulness for the students after their participation ended. In the future, Sara would try to make sure students received some sort of course credit for participation, perhaps as part of a project based learning assignment related to space design.
She organized a student event where students could come and vote on designs; approximately 40-50 students participated. She basically used big notepads where students could vote with sticky notes on larger sheets of bulletin board or flip chart paper housed on easels. For example:
She also used flip charts to get feedback from students using open-ended questions; she interspersed the flip charts with the buffet of food to “guide” them to this part of the feedback session. Students also had a chance to mark up floor plans; she provided them a variety of tools for doing this activity including crayons, sharpies, ballpoint pens, colored pencils, and regular pencils. Students then could tape their proposed floor plan on the wall. Afterwards, she coded the feedback from the student floor plans using categories like “atmosphere” (and specific elements assigned something like letters A-J) and “physical space” (specific aspects were numbered 1-14). This method of floor plan coding then allowed her to look at the data in a “layered” way (example: 2B).
Another strategy was student surveys. Unfortunately, her sample size of 40 was not ideal, but nonetheless, she was able to ask more detailed questions about services as well as questions about the library in comparison to other spaces in the building. She also had library student assistants help track space use; using iPads and Suma, they were able to gather data and plug it into LibAnalytics to get a better idea of space usage.
Once she looked at all the data, she was able to better understand student needs and could classify possible changes and redesign elements into these categories:
- Low cost/easy to do
- Low-cost/difficult to do
- High cost/easy to do
- High cost/ difficult to do
Unfortunately, the budget for the renovation was put on hold, but if it moves forward, Sara would get faculty input in the future and do similar activities with staff. The major takeaway for me from this session was the idea of space assessment as cyclical—it should be ongoing and is important to do even after you complete a renovation or redesign project to make sure the new space is continuing to work for students or to see what areas of new need/adjustment may be needed. This idea was especially helpful for Jennifer and me since she has opened a new library space, and I’m in the middle of working on a redesign project for the library here at Chattahoochee High.
My next post will be about the second session we attended on battling survey fatigue.