One of the first things I did was to create a
mission statement that I posted prominently in the library.
The mission of
the Sinnott Magnet School Library is to encourage students to
read, share ideas, and to learn to do research.
I wanted the students to be able to easily find
the different sections of the library. Luckily I have excellent
printing and sign making talents. I also employed banner programs
on the computer to produce easily read signage.
Rebuilding the Collection
To rebuild the school library collection I first
surveyed the students and discovered what books that they liked to
read. I spoke with school and
public librarians to find out what books were popular with teens. I
contacted book vendors and found out what other school libraries
I let the staff, parents and community know of the needs I had for
the library. I also wrote a lot of letters to book publishers and
very good responses and quite a few of free books to stock our
library. I purchased books at Used Book Stores. We also
managed to get some grants that enabled us to revitalize the
In the library office I organized a section
devoted to teaching materials which included curriculum guides and
other useful books to help them prepare lessons and activities in
their subject areas.
PTA – Parent Teacher Association
Since our PTA had no place in the school I
devoted an area in the library office for their materials and also started a
collection of materials (pamphlets and books) that parents could
Monthly Library Newsletter
I used the newsletter as a way to inform the
staff and students of the new materials that had been added to our
collection. I also highlighted great websites that I had uncovered
in different subject areas. I used Microsoft Publisher for the
Celebrating events and birthdays each month
For each month I made a monthly calendar on a
large poster board (See: Calendar page). For each day I found an important person’s
birthday or important event. I saved these posters and used them
each year. Without even realizing it I had created a multicultural
calendar of famous people and events.
Every month I changed the decorations in the
library to reflect the holidays and important happenings for that
time of the year. I had always done that when I taught because I
got tired of seeing the same thing all the time.
At the end of each marking period I made a
poster with the names of all of the students who made the honor
roll. I used dark magic marker so the
names were easy to read. The children loved seeing their names
posted in the library!
I also posted any awards that students
earned for their academic excellence or good citizenship, arts
education recognitions and sports achievement.
When former student Riddick Bowe came back to
visit I showed him a sign with his picture on it after he won the
silver medal in the Olympics. Later when he became the Heavyweight
Boxing Champ I also posted that.
Map of World with Flags Showing Countries of Origin of
Students & Teachers
I put up a map of the world and connected yarn from the countries
where students and staff members came from to the flag of that
country. The children would get excited when they saw their
Cooperative Learning Projects
I loved doing cooperative learning projects in
the library. The large tables and materials for the students made
it the perfect place for such endeavors. I asked the teachers to
divide up their classes into groups before they came to the
library. I just needed to know the name for each group. When the
class came into the library they would find a name card on each
table for the different groups. I gathered materials in cartons for
Cooperative Learning in the Library Projects
One way we used the Internet in the
A math class was in
the library doing a cooperative learning
lesson on fractions and percentages using M & M packages. The
students wanted to know why the packages were not uniform in
quantity. Cybrary Man immediately had the students email
M&M/Mars. That same day they got the following answer with the
average mix of colors in percentages: “Because of the difference in
the sizes of the individual candy, the number of pieces per package
varies. However, the package should be the indicated weight.”
in the Library
When I took over there were no computers in the
library. I brought my own computer in and scrounged around for any
In the infinite wisdom of the NYC Board of
Education they had filters that blocked all sports but allowed
controversial sites. This prevented students from doing a report on
people like Jackie Robinson. Students could not access the NBA and
Major League Baseball sites. They used to love to see the
statistics on those sites. Needless to say I had to fight that
A year before I left we won a grant that
enabled us to completely renovate the library and I was given ten
MAC computers plus two additional ones. I loved Our library computer
lab and made full use of it.
I fought for years to get an online catalogue
for Our library. I literally made up our own databases to keep track
of our collection. The year after I left they finally got around to
providing money for an online catalogue which was never done.
Yes, I am fully aware that what I did was a big
“no no” but it worked. I organized the biographies into
categories. When a student came into the library and needed a
biography of an explorer they went to the biography section and
found a sign indicating where the Explorer Biographies were. When I
did it I found it quite easy to see how many books I had and how
many I should order. I did have a complete database of the
biography section to enable the student to narrow down and find for
example a famous woman scientist of black mathematician. Sports,
Entertainers, Scientists and Writers were very popular with the
EMAIL Around The World Project
How I organized and ran our library program
Our principal approached me and asked me to
take over the school library when the regularly licensed
librarian retired. I had been teaching for twenty years at
this point. Even though I was a licensed Social Studies
teacher I had taught English, Reading, Science, Math and
Computers. I had also written curriculum for Our school
district, the New York City Public System and Open Doors which
was a School-Business Partnership in New York City.
Aside from those endeavors I was also
writing educational materials for a company that prepared
publications for the utility industry. I enjoyed showing classes
how I wrote one of the educational activity booklets.
The library was in disorder and I used to
cringe when we had faculty conferences there. Very few classes
used the library.
Our goal was to reorganize the entire
library and make sure that it was available for all subject area
When I officially took over I moved all
the books and organized the library.
To keep books neatly positioned I used to put the tubes pictures
or posters came in behind the books.
also undertook the process of weeding material which had not
been done for years. I wrote letters to book publishers asking
Student and Faculty Survey of Library
Materials - Subject/Grade Level Meetings
I surveyed the students and staff to find
out what books and materials that they wanted in the school
library. I also sat in on grade level and subject area
meetings and showed the participants ways that I would work with
them with their classes.
Library Orientation for New Students
At the beginning of each school year I
would first program (through their Language Arts teachers) all
of the incoming sixth grade classes for a series of three
library orientation lessons.
was to orient students to all of the services that the library
provided, the rules and regulations of the library and the
circulation policy as well as when they could use the library.
The second session covered how to
find a book (Dewey Decimal System) and the Reference Section.
The third session was a scavenger
hunt per library table that the children enjoyed. I also gave
them a brief library quiz.
Library Orientation for New Teachers
Since we had a large turnover in staff
every year I asked the principal for some time during the first
days that staff returned to orientate the new teachers to the
services that I provided.
Library Sign-up Sheet
I opened the library to all subject area
teachers. I just required that the fill in the periods that
they wanted to come and what they needed in terms of materials.
I urged teachers to inform me in advance of
projects they were assigning their students. I wanted to be
able to gather appropriate materials and set them aside for
Partnering with local public library
I established a relationship with the local
public library. I wanted them to be notified of upcoming
teacher assignments so they would also be prepared. I also
desired to make our students aware of all the resources that
were available at their local library.
I stumbled on Angelfire which was a free
website and was ad free on the main site. The only ads
originally were in the editing section. Later I had to pay a
fee to have an ad free site. I taught myself html to be able to
build the website. The library website was unveiled April
I wanted a site that would help the
students, staff and parents. To help students learn about the
site I organized a library website scavenger hunt. Students
earned a certificate and had their name posted on a sign in the
library when they completed the hunt.
I studied other library sites and found
that once they were done they were static. I wanted a site that
changed and reflected the current activities in the school and
world as well as information for that specific month. I also
had a page for the PTA.
other goal was to provide a one-stop educational site. If a student
needed information on Algebra I would have a page devoted to that
On each subject area page I included the
titles and call numbers of the books that I had in the library on
Stripped down version of what is left of the original Library Website
Trace the Trajectory of the Bullet Lesson
One morning I came into the library and
found a bullet hole in the window. I also noticed in a wall
where the bullet was lodged. After informing the authorities
who said there was nothing they could do I posted a sign on the
window to “trace the trajectory” of the bullet. I then worked
with a Science teacher and his class and with string and measuring apparatus
we were able to determine the probable location in the school
yard where the bullet was fired from. The students were able to
determine the caliber of the bullet when the bullet was removed
from the wall.
Morning Library Program
The busiest time of the day was The Early Morning
Library Program. It attracted an unbelievable number of
students. During this time they were able to borrow or return
books, read books & magazines (another “no no” to many other
librarians were the video game and popular entertainment magazines I
ordered. It was hard to keep those magazines in the library.
The children loved reading them!).
I also organized peer help for those students
struggling with their homework assignments.
It was a good time for the students to work on
school projects and reports.
I even had club time (Chess Club, Comic Book
I had all the computers used during this
time. The children were restricted to the library website.
Excerpts from some letters that I have about
Our library program:
“The complete renovation of the book shelves
and the reference section; the excellent periodical section; the
health careers and paperback sections; the author of the month
display – all combine to make your library a revitalized resource
unit for student-centered learning activities.” (Head of LA for the
“I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with
the fine job you are doing with the library facility. Your
exceptional program was like an oasis in a desert.”(NY State Associate)
“Many positive comments made by both
pedagogues, and parents concerning not only the attractive
appearance of the library, but also the vast array of books and the
materials available to students.” (School District Director of
“I am really impressed with your creative
activities in the library; and the fact that you are really
extending yourself to making it conducive for the youngsters to
enjoy reading; (even to want to visit the library), and to be
made comfortable and welcome. Your newsletter is very professional
and exceptional.” (Director of CA/SS & Libraries)
“Your library is a model for the district.”
(District Staff visit)
“It is always such a pleasure to bring guests
into your library. Whether they are the parents of our children
coming to see them being honored, or representatives from within the
system or the private sector, they all come away with knowing our
students are receiving the finest library services possible.”
Excerpts from letters about Our Library Program
When I retired I wrote a twenty page document
that explained everything I did in the library.
The library went through a succession of
librarians after me. The library was closed eight years after
I retired. It has subsequently been reopened and then closed
Educational Web Sites is the outcome of the original library
of Cybrary Man