Last Friday, I had a fantastic day at school. The tasks the students and I were working on were engaging and ripe with worthy discussion. The team-teaching in the lab with the grade 1/2s (where they taught us what they had discovered in their explorations of Notebook 10 software, and we discussed our new school Webkinz toy) led to some great ideas for future lessons for both me and the class teacher. The grade 3s working on an interactive map of the library had a side conversation on teacher as leader vs guide. Even my photography club impressed me with their analysis of what they deemed the best photos they took during our recent Terry Fox run. It must have been because of all these feel-good moments that I did something after school that I rarely do: I created a Halloween / scary book display.
I've never been big on pulling books for themed displays for several reasons. I thought it prevented teachers and students from becoming informed and skilled users of the library; they should be able to locate books using the online catalogue, rather than relying on me to find the books for them. I also worried that it limited my usefulness to the "book recommender" or "resource manager" of old, instead of being someone who integrates curriculum and information through collaborative lesson planning. Then, there was always the equity piece - was I being fair to certain books by pigeon-holing them into certain categories, or was I being fair to all cultures and religions by highlighting one particular one in a display form over another?
So why did I do it then, when I have all these misgivings? I tried it out because I had a couple of grade 9 volunteers who were eager to assist. I did it to explore my collection again, not using the catalogue but by perusing the shelves; in doing so, I found several books I didn't realize I had. I also had to admit to myself that teachers and students are rushed for time. I've been often asked for "scary books", and the way books are sorted in my library (everybody section, fiction, non-fiction, periodicals, reference, dual language, comics, etc.), there isn't a "spooky spot". I don't "do" holidays as lessons on their own usually, but I know teachers that do, and finding a quick read-aloud for the season will help them, and hopefully generate more goodwill to the library (and teacher-librarian).
I've done new book displays for kids to borrow (what's the point of having a display if you can't take the books?) and that's been successful. I'll see how well this experiment goes and how I feel about it a few weeks from now. Happy National Library Month!