In May of this year McCone County Library was awarded a $10,000 grant from Libraries Transforming Communities. These funds were provided by the American Library Association in conjunction with The Association of Rural and Small Libraries. The purpose of this grant was to increase the accessibility of our library to meet the needs of children in our service area who struggle with reading. Our goal is to turn every child into someone who reads for pleasure.
With this money we were able to reorganize the department to make it “Kid Friendly, Librarian Unfriendly”. Books for Pre-readers are organized by topic. The are displayed in small buckets, each labeled with picture signage and grouped within larger categories. For example all of the dinosaur books are in buckets together and are grouped with books in buckets about dragons, sharks, and other animals. Kids non-fiction books are set up in a similar fashion. For example: all of the animal and pet books are on one row of shelves, but divided into snakes, bugs, horses, cats, dogs, ocean life. For kids who are searching for a book, they no longer need to know the title or the author, they just need to know what they like to read.
As a reader ages and builds skill levels, the department changes to meet their needs. Beginning Readers will find books organized by AR reading level to better align with the school’s curriculum and to ensure that each child is reading the right book for their reading level. Students who have progressed to chapter books will find all of the chapter books together regardless of skill level. Any student reading a chapter book goes to the same section, so struggling readers are not forced to go to a separate section. These books are grouped by category and then organized alphabetically by the author’s last name, Students browse books by interest such as Graphic Novels, Adventure and Fantasy, Mystery, Animals, Sports, General Fiction, and Historical Fiction. Young Adult books are organized in a similar fashion. Readers for these books choose from the categories that interest them. Books are organized in every section very visually to break up the sight line and entice the reader to explore the collection and allow them to find the right book for them.
Part of the grant funds purchased three new bays of shelving to expand the space for chapter books and young adult books. the amazing Cody Drew, Lavern Schillinger, and Riona Solberg helped haul, uncrate, and put together these units. This extra space allowed us to really be creative in the way that books are featured on the shelf. Initial test results are positive with increases in kids fiction checkouts at 33% and kids non-fiction at 62%! We were also able to purchase a dedicated display for kids audiobooks. Most books on the audiobook display also have a physical copy available for checkout on the shelf so that a struggling reader can read along with the narration.
The remainder of the grant allowed us to purchase some new materials for the collection that would appeal to young readers. We were able to double the size of our Graphic Novel collection, triple the size of our kids audiobook collection, try out some new series, fill in missing books in some series, and replace a few series where the books were worn and damaged.
If you haven’t visited your local library in a while, you will be surprised at the changes. We invite you to our open house during Christmas Open House Day on Friday December, 15th. Munch on cookies and tour all the changes. I will also be on hand to answer any questions that you may have. If you cannot wait until December, visit any time and ask for a tour. We will be happy to show you around. This is also a great time to ensure that you and anyone in your family over nine have your own library card. There are more benefits with your card than just being able to check out a book. Stop in and ask us all about them!
We hope to see you soon and as always, hope that you find something good to read.