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How I Organized and Ran Our School Library Program

My all-time favorite Library Squad - They all went to college!
East New York - where I taught!

 Mission Statement

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 also
contacted book vendors and found out what other school libraries were ordering.
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 received
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 library.

 Faculty Section

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 take home. 

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 newsletters.

 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. 

 Honoring Students

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 country's flag.

Multicultural Celebration

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 each group.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning in the Library Projects

One way we used the Internet in the Library...(1998)

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.”

 Computers 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 other computers.

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 decision. 

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.

Online Catalogue

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 students.

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 classes.

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.

 I also undertook the process of weeding material which had not been done for years. I wrote letters to book publishers asking for donations.

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. 

 First session 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.

Teacher Project Sheet

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 distribution.

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.

Library Website

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 11, 1999.

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.

Our 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 subject area. 

On each subject area page I included the titles and call numbers of the books that I had in the library on that topic.

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.

Early 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 Club).

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 School District)

“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 Mathematics)

 “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.” (Principal)

Excerpts from letters about Our Library Program

Sad End

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 again.

Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites is the outcome of the original library website

The Career of Cybrary Man

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