Library Website Updates

In lieu of an in-person professional development workshop I had scheduled for early August, I was lucky enough to be able to build out some self-paced professional development for librarians as they begin navigating the uncertain 2020-2021 school year in the midst of a global pandemic. I was able to reflect a lot on what I feel will be important for us as school librarians in terms of focus and energy. No matter how our schools are kicking off this new year, it is more important than ever to be sure that our library resources are easily accessible in a digital format.

When I moved to my current school in for the 2016-2017 school year, one of my first big initiatives was to organize our databases and other resources to build a new library website. This website has served us well, but I felt like this year was time to make some improvements. I reached out on Twitter to see what others were doing in their digital spaces, and I was quite inspired by what was shared! I’ve collected the shared spaces on this Wakelet:

I decided to use Genially, one of my favorite design tools, to create our interactive database collection. I found that my students were struggling the most with deciding which database to use by the provided buttons. Even though I broke down each resource with a description on different content area pages, that was hidden behind an extra click that they rarely used. Genially allowed me to add scroll-over tool tips that provide a short blurb about each resource. I also divided resources into three categories: General/News, Humanities, and STEM. I wanted some division without too many options, so I am hopefully that this will work well for students.

I am planning to launch the new design next week. I did a demo with some of our fellows (juniors and seniors) in the Writing Center, and they were very excited about the new design.

I’m also working on shifting gears a bit for my middle school students. They don’t use or really need access to the wide variety of databases that our high school students use, so I am planning to use Destiny Discover to design a landing page that is more geared towards their needs. Our middle school students are 1:1 on school issued iPads. Although I didn’t love the Destiny Discover app, I am able to add the direct Destiny Discover button with Safari to their home screen.

I love that I can add “Learning Links” to include the library resources they most frequently use. I’m using Destiny Collections to gather lists for students and teachers, and that displays nicely on the page, too.

I’m using Google Forms for book check-out requests, and it’s working well so far for us. I’m using some pre-formulated email replies (Quick Parts in Outlook) to communicate with students about holds and books on order. I know that Destiny can do lots of automation with holds and all, but at this point we feel like we need more of a pulse on whats happening and more direct control.

I’m also loving the form I have created for Book Recommendations. Although this is a time consuming process, it’s working well as a substitution for typical in-person readers’ advisory.

I’m also using Quick Parts here to send emails with recommendations. I’m sending three book recommendations (including title, author, and a brief description from Destiny or Goodreads) for each submission. It’s been rewarding to then fill book requests for some of my recommendations!

I know these are weird times for all of us. I know that none of us feel like we are rocking, rolling, and doing our best work. Supporting teachers right now is hard. Taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally while still managing our work responsibilities is hard. This is a year where we need to lean on each other and give plenty of grace. Be sure that you are regularly extending that grace to yourself.

4 thoughts on “Library Website Updates

  1. Hello Tiffany,
    I really enjoy reading your blog post on your new and improved library website and book request/recommendations forum. I have been following your blog for some time now and wanted to say that I think it is so useful to have a place where students can still feel that they have access to their school libraries. Making an accessible place such as this is really beneficial to kids who still want books but are unsure where to start. The amount of detail and organization you have put into your websites and forums will serve as an amazing resource for all the families at your school. Your book recommendation forum gave me some ideas for my future if I am ever in need of creating a reccomendation forum. I can imagine it is somewhat time consuming to send the recommendations, but it is so beneficial for those who are in need of a book and do not know where to start. During these unprecidented times, I imagine there are many insearch of their next new “escape” novel.

    Thanks again.

  2. Hi Tiffany,
    This is a great blog! I’m currently taking teacher-librarian courses, and all the information you’ve shared on creating and rebuilding your website is very appreciated. I especially liked reading why you chose to implement specific apps etc. Very informative!
    Thanks for sharing your findings,
    Tracey

  3. Hi Tiffany!
    I just discovered your blog tonight and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the incredible work that you are doing. Not only are you finding and sharing these resources, you are taking so many risks learning new technologies that will support your colleagues and students during these challenging times.

    You sent me down a major rabbit hole as I explored your wakelet. I especially enjoyed discovering the google slide templates that have been created for remote learning… here are a few of my favourites… 1. Simple Weekly Planner https://slidesmania.com/simple-weekly-planner-for-distance-learning-with-hyperlinks-for-easy-navigation/
    2. Daily Activities or Choice Board https://slidesmania.com/daily-activities-or-choice-board-template-for-google-slides/
    3. Welcome to Class with Breakout Rooms https://slidesmania.com/welcome-to-class-for-warm-up-slides-breakout-rooms-or-rotations-free-template/
    4. File Cabinets https://slidesmania.com/file-cabinets-a-template-for-google-slides-or-powerpoint-for-blended-learning/
    5. Weekly Planner for Distance Learning https://slidesmania.com/web-app-weekly-planner-for-distance-learning-with-hyperlinks-for-google-slides-or-powerpoint/
    6. Cinema Choice Board https://slidesmania.com/cinema-choice-board-or-daily-activities-slides-for-google-slides-or-powerpoint/
    (sorry I couldn´t hyperlink anything here).

    I love that they can be used to create learning opportunities in which students have a lot of choice in what and how they learn.

    I created something similar for the students in our district in the Spring when we were all learning remotely, and then hybridly. If you are interested, I called it Choose Your Own Nature Adventure https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1y5qFUT68OhVDayEaYM4f-_dFfaghjc6nKfZLPKwrEls/copy

    I really appreciate that you take the time to write this blog to make your thinking visible and look forward to learning more from you. Make sure to take your own advice and give yourself plenty of grace! You are amazing!

    Marnie Birkeland
    Teacher Consultant in British Columbia, Canada

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