Monday, January 16, 2012

Season's Readings Book Extravaganza

I always tell my students that inspiration might be around the next corner or the next door and that is exactly what happened with the moneyless book fair program. When the financial results came in from a book fair that was booked by the librarian before me, I knew I had a problem. I worked nonstop for an entire week hosting class after class only to find out that 12 or less students purchased a book. Don't get me wrong they bought "stuff" but it was all trinkets that accompanied the fair. I had to evaluate the purpose of the book fair and what exactly was my role. Was I striving to make money for library programming or was I trying to match my students with some great books to purchase and read? That was a difficult question to answer in these challenging financial times. The answer came fast and furious when I realized I wanted what was best for our students and thus the beginning of a new library program emerged - The Season's Readings Book Extravaganza or the moneyless book fair.

My first stop in early October was with two dynamic English teachers that were/are ready for new fresh ideas. They are on the Library Advisory Committee so meetings began to outline and plan a way to get as many books into our students' hands as possible. We set the Season's Readings Book Extravaganza date for the Thursday before our Christmas holiday. This gave us two months to plan and execute a program that I wasn't sure would even work.

In mid October we began talking with our students about participating in a gently used book fair and like the two English teachers they were ready to take on the task. I approached the student body explaining this had never been done before and challenged them to try and make this work. Flyers went out, messages on Facebook went out, tweets were constant, and every time a class visited the library I "talked it up". As expected in the beginning the momentum seemed slow and until a teacher came in with a flyer for the Half Price Book Store warehouse sale. The Library Advisory Committee was up for a peek at the first time sale and we hit the jackpot as far as getting some wonderful books for under $1.00 each. Amazingly enough as we show-cased our purchased books and shared our enthusiasm with both the teachers and students more books began to pour in. As the collection grew the momentum for the program grew. Finally in the beginning of December we received another flyer advertising the Scholastic warehouse sale but this time other teachers volunteered to join un on this endeavour. We were able to purchase books with our Scholastic bucks from previous book fairs. We also picked up posters, bookmarks, pencils, and pens. By this time our collection was approaching close to 2,000 books for roughly 400 students.

Students knew they needed to earn tickets for the Extravaganza so we had to come up with some creative ideas. Students received tickets for donated books. We tapped into the food drive and gave tickets for each donated food item. Each English teacher set up criteria such as handing in reading logs on time or other classroom management ideas. Remember our objective was to get as many tickets into the students’ possession as possible. 50 tickets were given to all students without tardies for an extended time period and obviously tickets were given to students without overdue library books. We actually bought red, green, and white tickets and gave them values of 5, 10, and 20 simialr to money. The school secretary printed out labels with student names and a description of ticket value for each student. A label was placed on an individual envelop that was given to each student as they entered the library with their English class. With tickets in hand over 95% of our students bought books with their earned tickets. Some students were able to buy as many as 7 books.

In my reflection of the moneyless book fair I realized that our students wanted to purchased books although they didn't have the same means as others. I've been asked when is the next Extravaganza and it amazes me how much they appreciated the event. It will forever be one of my most rewarding days as a teacher librarian.

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