As the librarian responsible for the beginning readers section at my library, I’ve been working on ways to help my patrons navigate beginning readers. And there was a ton of room for improvement!
So…before I got started, this section looked like this:
It’s a functioning section, of course. Patrons could reach the books and browse. But it wasn’t the experience that our picture book bins provided. Comparing the two sections (that are right next to each other), I could see that the readers were being left behind. I knew I needed a plan.
- Weed. The kind of deep weed where you not only check circulation and condition but also content. Is this book a good beginning reader? Has it been surpassed by a newer book?
- Tidy. Those half-haphazardly placed displays were not working and looked awful when empty. And the shelves were a nightmare! Nothing held up the books in a consistent way. Some shelves were full to the brim and some had books laying down by the end of the day.
- Educate. I had to start *reading* beginning readers. And get to know the series. And make an effort to find these books since review journals don’t often cover them.
- Guide. I don’t know if you can see it, but our series were marked with a plain label maker sticker on the shelf. Beginning readers could not actually use that system to find their favorite books.
- Promote. Connect readers with books. Teach caregivers how to choose books.
I got to work tackling that checklist. I weeded like I’ve never weeded before. The library bought us clear acrylic display holders and we got to put the black display arms in storage.
I learned to love beginning readers, especially Pig in a Wig and King & Kayla. And I made some awesome shelf markers to help beginning readers actually see their favorites with pictures.
And you better believe that I am always working on promoting the collection. I now have two rotating displays in that area and find myself constantly booktalking to caregivers.
But that doesn’t mean my work is done. I still want to create a brochure that explains the section, compares the different leveling systems, and then reinforces that all reading is good reading and that leveling systems aren’t designed to choose books. (Yes, dismantling the system!) I want to provide documents/guides for desk staff to make sure that caregivers are receiving the best service there regardless if I’m around to remember that there is a series about a girl and a cat (Brownie and Pearl!).
The library always continues to grow and change. And isn’t that one of the best parts?
What have you done to help patrons navigate beginning readers? How can you improve your section? Let me know in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library