Library Catalog? Yeah, We Got That. Sort Of.

As the OVS-Upper Campus Library continues to revamp itself, one of the projects Mr. Brough has started is getting the library books into some sort of searchable catalog. Traditionally, libraries use an Integrated Library System or, ILS, that keeps a catalog of all the materials in a library including physical information, locations, and other attributes of a book.

The OVS-Upper Campus Library is doing things a bit different, though. In fact, we are trying to do a lot of things differently here. Anyways, our catalog can be found and searched via LibraryThing. LibraryThing is an online resource that anyone can register for and keep track of books you have read, own, want to read, etc.

There are a few reasons why I have decided to use LibraryThing as our ILS:

  1. It is free. I like free things. Free things allow me to free up resources for other things.
  2. Without getting too technical, LibraryThing is better equipped to deal with a Dewey-free collection. Trust me on this.
  3. LibraryThing has a nice graphical layout that is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate.
  4. You can search LibraryThing just like you can search a traditional library catalog.

Now, nothing is perfect and LibraryThing is certainly no exception. That said, LibraryThing more than fits the needs to students and staff at the OVS-Upper Campus Library. Trust me on this, I’m a professional.

Anyways, without further ado: OVS-Upper Campus Library LibraryThing

Check it out, okay? Not every book has been entered, but more and more are available each day!



Read A Book, Create A Trailer

wantread copyAs we glide into the Thanksgiving break, what better time to grab a book at the library to read.

The library and English Department invite you, NAY, challenge you to take out a book for break, read it, and then create a book trailer. To make things easy for you, we are giving you until after Christmas/New Years break to finish this relatively simple challenge.

Now, you may be asking yourself two questions:
1. What is in it for me?
2. What in the world is a book trailer?

The answer to the first question is that you get personal satisfaction from reading a book. You get to imagine a fantastic story, expand your vocabulary, become a better writer and thinker, and expand your mind a bit. All great, right? RIGHT?!

Oh, you want more? Okay, then. In addition to all the personal pleasure you get from reading a book, you’ll also get some extra credit in your English class. This could potentially swing your grade, so it is definitely worth it. Especially since this is a relatively easy assignment.

Moving on; what is a book trailer? Well, a book trailer is just like a movie trailer only for books. It’s a 90-second to two-minute video trailer promoting a book to potential readers. Here is one I created last year:

Here are some other ones:

For additional help, check out this webpage I made at my last library job!

Give ‘Em What They Want

Recently, the library sent out a survey to both the students and staff at the Upper Campus. The purpose of the student surveys was to learn about how they use the library, what they would like to see, what they like best, the sort of reader they are, etc. Fifty-five (55) students filled out the survey and the feedback was telling:

  • 67% of the students spend between 0-2 hours in the library each week. 29% spend 3-5 hours, and 4% spend 6+ hours.
  • When asked about the different ways they spend their time in the library, 76% said they come to get homework done. 38% said they also come to socialize while 35% stated that they use the library for research. 20% of the time they come to check out a book, a number I would like to increase.
  • When asked what would encourage them to use the library more, there were two overwhelming wants: more and better books AND more computers, both at 60%. Students also indicated that multimedia tools (digital cameras, video cameras, etc) would be nice.
  • How much time each week do students spend reading things outside of class? 48% said that they read between 0-2 hours a week, 39% between 3-5, and 14% more than 5 hours.
  • Conversely, 48% said that they love to read but don’t have enough time.
  • What are kids reading? In order of most to least: Action/Adventure (60%), Mystery (44%), Humor (39%), Biographies/Autobiographies (31%), and Current Events (28%). Other genres were mentioned as well.

The library also asked the students to list one thing they could change about the library. The responses were numerous but there was one request that was repeatedly listed: comfortable seating/couches.

It was nice to hear directly from the students how they used the library and what they want. The takeaways include getting more books that are engaging to students and to make the library a more comfortable place. The library is committed to both and hopes to address those things in the very near future. In fact, the library is already getting new books in, so watch this space for updates.

Click for full survey results!

Encyclopedia Britannica is here!

Remember this:EB

Well, that 32-volume, 129 pound collection of all the world’s knowledge has been replaced by this:


Ojai Valley School, both Lower and Upper, is proud to announce that Encyclopedia Britannica Online is now available to all the students and staff.

Some key features/benefits:

  • Up-to-the-minute information on everything ever.
  • 24/7 access from anywhere with an Internet connection from any device.
  • Pictures! Video! Audio! WOW!
  • Access to periodical articles.
  • Links to external websites that have been vetted by education professionals.
  • The ability to cite your source, share information, and adjust reading levels.
  • And much, much more!

To access Encyclopedia Britannica Online, simply visit If you are accessing it from either campus, you will be logged in automatically. If you need access off of campus, please ask the library for the username and password.

Keep Calm And Search On!

Why Libraries Weed

Many times, when people hear that I, as a librarian, am getting rid of books in the library, they are taken aback.

“How can you get rid of books, you work in a library?”

“Are you going to burn them?”

“What if someone needs them?”

Et cetera, et cetera.

And while it may seem odd that a librarian is getting rid of library books, it is a necessary part of the job. Sometimes books lose value. That is to say, books are printed, information changes/progresses, and the book becomes obsolete. Or sometimes cultural tastes change and what was once popular in the 50’s is no longer relevant in the present.

Part of the library’s job is to continually weed and update the collection to reflect the needs of the present day patron. So there is that.

The purpose of this post, though, is to share some collection statistics with you. These numbers help me better understand what makes up the OVS collection and reinforces my sometimes aggressive approach to weeding.

I recently ran our collection through two different analysis programs:

follett mackin

What these reports do is analyze a library’s collection through its catalog of books. It then tallies the number of items, the Dewey number, publishing date, and other information and then breaks your collection down. It will tell you the average age of a book in the library, how many books are in a particular subject, what is considered out of date, and more.

Both analysis’ are basically the same, so let me share some information about the OVS Library at the Upper Campus:

Number of items cataloged: 3,779
Estimated items per student: 33.62
Average age of a library book: 1971

Those are the big overarching numbers. Our books per student is excellent (20 per student is average), but when those books average 40+ years old, that raises an eyebrow. We are working on that, though. Believe me, we are working on that through weeding and buying new books.

Looking further, the analysis shows that Geography & History make up nearly 1/3 of the total collection with 1,116 items. The average age, though, is 1968. However, this is not as problematic as it initially appears. When it comes to history and literature books, information does not change as much as say, books on technology or science. Still, we can and will freshen up that part of the collection.

Our fiction collection is small, with only 184 cataloged books. This is slightly misleading because there are a number of books that haven’t been cataloged. Either way, the average age of a fiction book is 1976. Again, this number is not as bad as it looks. A copy of the classic Animal Farm published in 1973 is still the same piece of literature as it is published today. However, there are quite a few books that are on the older side that just aren’t popular any longer. This happens. People’s tastes change. The fiction collection, to me, is the key to this library.  A lot of non-fiction material can be accessed online and through databases. Fiction, though, is the key to becoming a lifelong reader and what I am going to really try and push here at OVS. It has to reflect the tastes of the students and staff. It has to be engaging, entertaining, and well-written. I want kids to become avid readers and to take that with them into adulthood.

If you are interested in any other statistics, feel free to email me (


Treasures From The Library

A few books caught my eye this morning while weeding the collection. They made me chuckle and so I thought I’d share them with you.

First is an autobiography of actress Helen Hayes called A Gift of Joy. Something caught my eye when I opened up the book to the title page. There, looking at me was the name Lewis Funke, co-author of this book. Now, I know that the umlauts are missing, but I really want to believe that this is the father, or uncle at the very least, of one Tobias Funke. Lewis is obviously involved with the acting business somehow, so it now makes 100% sense that Tobias dreams of becoming an actor.


Next up are two books that actually may be helpful the next you are at a social gathering:

A total of 102 party tricks are included within the pages of the two books. There are lots of coin, rope, and hanker-chief “feats” along with a few card and paper folding tricks to dazzle your friends and family. Mostly, though, I think the real takeaway from these books is that if you want to show off, wear bellbottoms and a neckerchief. It works for Don Knotts and Charles Nelson Reilly.


Ditching the Dewey Decimal System

I have SO much information to share with you that I’m going to have to break it up over a series of posts, but for now I want to talk about a major change in the library.

For anyone who has used a library in the past 100+ years you’ve probably used the Dewey Decimal System (DDC) to find a book. And after books, it is probably the second most identifiable word associated with libraries. When people learn that I went to graduate school for information and library science, they always ask, jokingly I hope, if I just took classes in the Dewey Decimal System. It is a classification system that has done an admirable job in the library for many, many years.

And now I’m ditching it. Gone! Kaput! Outta here!

Why? The big thing I want to do here at OVS is encourage reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and to make research a bit easier. Freeing up the books from Dewey will help facilitate both things. Dewey is sometimes wonky, makes it difficult to browse, and is not really all that intuitive to use. Sure, things are grouped by topic, for the most part, but what would make it easier for a student to browse: going to the catalog, looking up a number, then going to the shelves to find that number OR going to a shelf that is clearly labeled with a topic. For example, I am setting up sections for all things literature, which are normally in the 800s for Dewey. With the new organizational system, I’ve come up with a couple of subject headings, including:

  • Poetry
  • Drama/Plays
  • Criticisms
  • Shakespeare
  • Essays


Now if a student wants to find a poetry book, they just go to the poetry section and browse the books, ideally organized by author’s last name. Doing a project on Shakespeare, just go to the Shakespeare section. You don’t have to look up a number, remember it, and then go retrieve it.

Another big reason I am doing this is because we are undergoing a ton of changes, weeding a lot of books, and (potentially) implementing a new circulation system, so now is the time to make such a switch.

If I’m honest with you, I have always been quite dubious of ditching Dewey. When I had my first real conversation about it with fellow librarian and former co-worker Pam Harland, I was very much on Dewey’s side. I came from the school of, “If it ain’t broke…” but then I saw her implement it at her school and saw real world application. Her circulation numbers exploded and her students love it.

Check out Pam’s various blog entries on the topic:Putting Dewey on a Diet, Breaking Up With Dewey, and Dewey Decimal RantAlso, check out her conference presentation on the topic.

There has been a great deal written about this topic, both good and bad, so check out the links below, search online for further information, or talk to me about it; it makes for lively discussion.