Access - Students may use the library before school, during lunch, and after school (until 3:30, most days). They are required to bring a note from their teacher if coming in during class time. An average of 40 students come in during the school day to work independently or in groups, research and print, check out books and read or study. Approximately 450 classes came in to do research, work on projects and assignments, type papers and check out books. In addition to individual student and class use, the library is the home for math recovery classes, a meeting space for individual and small group pull-outs, and a frequent testing center.
Technology - The library contains 30 computers in the lab area for class use (installed February 2014) and 13 scattered around the library for individual student use. Additionally, the library has 25 laptops that may be checked out to teachers or used in the library. The lab has been a tremendous asset to Fern Creek and the library can now accommodate two classes simultaneously with computers, if necessary. The library added a new printer for general use this year and color printing is now available to students for the first time.
It is important to have an up-to-date collection in order to provide students resources for their informational needs and to encourage reading. Old or obsolete books, those in disrepair and unappealing titles turn students off. The Fern Creek library has made great strides in the past 10 years to refresh an older collection and to incorporate previously non-included genres; for example, urban literature and graphic novels.
The average age of the collection has gradually declined since 2005. In June 2005, the average age of the collection was 1980; the guideline for that year was 1996, so the collection was 16 years out of date. As of 2015, the collection has an average age of 2004, a mere one year out of date.
Compared to JCPS high school libraries:
Collection: “Lean, but mean.” We have a relatively small collection (17th), but it is 3rd in publication date.
Circulation: This represents the number of items checked out and renewed during the school year. Through March 2015, we were 6th in total circulation (5531 transactions, 4400 was the district average). This is good, however, it is a decline from the past two school years when Fern Creek was among the top three. Possible contributions to this trend: changes in staff teaching English and teachers having fewer opportunities to allow students time for independent reading. This trend is one that we have discussed during our High School Librarians’ PLC; despite our relative drop in circulation, most JCPS librarians are noticing a decline in circulation and general library usage due to curriculum constraints.
Research skills – For the second year, Ms. Maremont, Ms. Dobson and I worked on the senior research project together; we are seeing progress in the use of databases through Kentucky Virtual Library by our students. Although anecdotal, we all notice an increase in students using the databases and we noticed more persistence in locating credible resources and more emphasis on documentation than we have in the past. Next year, I hope to include a database rubric to use with them and to incorporate it into their assessments.
Inventory - An inventory was conducted for the first time during 2014-15. While the database has been continually updated and the collection checked “by hand,” this is a more comprehensive account of what is missing from the shelves. The inventory indicated numerous records for which books could not be located; these records had to be deleted individually from the database. Another inventory will be conducted during the next school year. Then it will be necessary at some point to check the shelves manually against the catalog list (the inventory report does not indicate the books whose records are missing from the database).
Barnes & Noble Event - An exciting project was initiated by the music department that benefitted the library as well. Band students entertained shoppers at Barnes and Noble during the holidays and offered gift wrapping services. In conjunction, a “wish list” was created from which patrons could purchase books to donate to the library; we received 30 new and gently used books through the project and hopefully, it will be repeated next year.
READSTRONG – Our 25-book campaign continued for its fourth year in 2015. This year over 75 students participated; 12 completed the campaign (there were 20 in 2013-14). These readers were very enthusiastic and most were underclassmen. At first, teachers were promoting the program, but now only one actively has her students participating. It is obvious that the program needs better promotion and more public, school-wide celebration of the participants is needed. A first step: the reading posters that featured the students were very popular in the first year of the campaign and make an easy way to promote the program.
Book Selection – Many students struggle when told to find a book to read. To help in book selection, the library has binders of recommended books listed by genre and lists of “favorite series.” Additionally, there are lists of “read alike” titles for students who enjoyed a particular title. The newest books are always displayed in the front of the library. To make books in series easier to identify, the spines of books that are parts of series have been numbered. With new shelving in 2015-16, enhanced signage will be an added tool for students to use in book selection.
Favorite titles & genres – Our students are enjoying graphic novels (Walking Dead series), dystopia/adventure (Roth’s Divergent series), realistic fiction (Ellen Hopkins’ series), romance (Katie McGarry’s series), and fantasy (Riordan’s Percy Jackson series).
New books – 750 new records were added to the catalog in the past year. This represents newly purchased books, and those obtained through donation. About $9000 was spent on new books this year. The typical year’s budget allots $6000 for books, $2000 for periodicals and $1000 for supplies; anything left over from supplies and periodicals is shifted to books at the end for the final order. The selection of new books is challenging and every dollar must be carefully spent. Each year, areas in the collection which need updating are identified, book reviews are read, “best of” lists of books are considered, and teacher and student recommendations are encouraged. This year, the “AP” reading section was enhanced with orders for books requested by Mr. Peters and Ms. Maremont.
Lost books – One negative aspect of every school year is the loss of books by current and former students. This year, 53 students did not return 63 books at the end of the year, at a value of $1050. Some of these books will be returned at the beginning of the year, but many will not be returned. Students receive overdue notices on a weekly basis. Prior to packing the library, my aids and I went to students’ classrooms to request that they return their books. Next year, phone calls to parents may be necessary. Additionally, 44 students transferred this year with 48 books, valued at $650. As students transfer, notices are sent to the other librarians in JCPS asking them to help in recovering the books; also, parents of transferring students are emailed and asked for their help. It is unlikely that any of these books will be located within Fern Creek or returned by the students’ current librarians (a few of the books of other transfer students were recovered from classrooms after the students had left).
2015 – 16:
Facility – The first goal for the new school year will be to re-assemble the library in its freshly renovated space! New signage will need to be created once everything is in place.
LibGuide – This is a project that was begun in 2013-14 and got derailed this year; it is a priority for next year. The LibGuide will be the one-stop-shopping location for the entire Fern Creek community to access information and resources through the library. This will serve as the library’s webpage and hopefully, students will access it to communicate informational needs, book requests, submit READSTRONG reviews and access the library catalog as well as external links.
Research – A major goal for the 2015-16 year is building on the progress made in research skills and database usage, particularly for seniors. The LibGuide will be particularly helpful in focusing students on database use when conducting research, as opposed to automatically using search engines for information.
Fern Creek High School
9115 Fern Creek Rd., Louisville, KY 40291