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Oops, I missed a few in my first collection...

I had a similar problem a few years back.  This is what I did with fifth
graders (the highest grade level in my then-school).  I instituted
"Adopt-A-Shelf".  Each student was assigned a shelf, with her/his name in
the shelf label.  The library class when I introduced it, I reviewed Dewey
Order, showed each student her/his shelf and told them that they were
responsible to making sure their shelf was in order (I mixed the books up
before they came in.) Thereafter, during book selection time, there were
responsible to make sure their shelf was in order & I would spot check.  I
say I had about 80% successful.  Some students volunteered to take more than
one shelf.
I actually took a few digital photos as I was cleaning up last Friday.   I
knew to expect a mess - I let everyone take 4 books instead of their usual 2
- and that makes them CRAZY!    As I was straightening and cussing under my
breath...:-)  I took some "before" and "after" photos - books falling off
the shelf, turned everywhich way, laying on the floor, pushed all the way
back .....then I took ones of nicely fronted shelves.    I'm going to do
something like "which shelf do you think it will be easier to locate  a
particular book on?...etc.

I, also, have been frustrated at the lack of respect for library materials.
My younger groups, k-3, have much more respect than the 4th and 5th graders.
 A librarian wasn't present when our library was built so the shelving is
inappropriate for the fiction section and it adds to the level of
messiness.  Books slip under the wire upper brackets and fall down.  There
weren't any backs on the shelves, either.  I tried being nice and tried
different "games" with the older kids to no avail.   I did strike home when
I turned all the spines to the wall and did a scavenger hunt ;-)  I
demonstrated books out of place, (kids thoughtlessly caring a "b author" and
deciding they wanted an "s author" and guess where the b author book ended
up?  Yes, in the S section.  I "hid" a book inside a book….. etc.  Some kids
got the idea that spines should face out, be careful how one places books
back on the shelf, and each books has an address.  I also went over and over
how to use a shelf marker.

 We have TONS of meetings in the library so I'm usually staying way late to
take care of these shelving issues. So, I decided next semester, anyone at
the shelves without a shelf marker will be given a checkmark.  Three
checkmarks equals a lunch detention.  I guess I will see how this works
One time I obtained some "crime scene tape" and taped up every shelf
that was messy.  It was left that way and I added shelves until I felt
the kids were getting the point and beginning to do a better job with
keeping the shelves in order.
I think your problem is very prevalent, and I wish I knew why.

I had the same problem in the grade 6-9 school where I just finished my
internship.  Some of "my" students were international students (most are
Spanish speakers), and I do speak "school-dialect" Spanish.  Since I was
"just an intern," however, I tried dealing with it individually.  If I saw
a student putting a book back any-which-way, I'd quietly say (in Spanish),
"See these numbers?  The books are supposed to be numerical order by these
numbers.  I know you don't know much English yet, but you do know your
numbers, don't you?"

I'd get a sheepish look and a, "Yes, ma'am."  ;-)

The first thing I do with sixth graders (I have sixth through eighth) is
have them make their own personal shelf markers.  They can decorate them
any way they wish, as long as it's appropriate.  I laminate them and
keep them in the library for their library visits.  After a few years of
this, I finally figured out it works best to choose one color per
homeroom so if someone leaves one behind, I can easily put it with the
right class's markers.  It really helps kids keep the shelves in order.
I don't even do this in seventh and eighth grade because they are so
well-trained by then.

One thing I tell my students that seems to stick, is when a book is put
back with the pages showing instead of the spine, I say I see guts
hanging out in the shelves.  Of course the kids say "ohh", but it works
and someone always comes over to find the "guts" and make it right.  I
love it when I hear students tell each other, "Hey, you have guts
hanging out of that book".
Have a wonderful break.
There are also several archived discussions on Book Care, some of which
address care of the shelves.

Thanks again!

Danna DeMars, LMS
Garrett Elem
Hazelwood, MO

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