My first Breakout Creation

So, I’ve done BreakoutEDU’s before.  Both as a participant and facilitator. They’re awesome.  (Sidenote – if you haven’t tried one, you must!) Escape rooms meets education.

I want to do a breakoutEDU for my library.  But I don’t want one that’s already been made, because I want it to be tailored to my library.  So, I want to make my own.

Ok.  Full disclaimer.  It’s FREAKING hard to create one!  They make it look so easy.  It’s not. Just sayin’.

So this is something I have been working on for several weeks.  I have the direction one down, but the rest….? yeah, no.

But then.  I realized I had a presentation to do for my music fraternity.  It was a week out from the presentation.  What could I present? … and then I started thinking.  And thinking.  And it hit me.  I could make a breakout for it!

Ok, so you may be thinking – you just said it was freaking hard!  Yes, yes I did.  But somehow, and I don’t know how, I was able to create this breakout.  Within two days I came up with this breakout!  I started thinking, I started researching, I grabbed my SAI History book (not a thin book!), and went to work designing it.  And by the end of the week, I had a full breakout game.

And then I had to present it.

So, the hard part of this is that you have to have at least a little bit of knowledge of my music fraternity in order to figure out the locks.  So, I couldn’t have just a regular person test it.  So, my first test run was for my presentation.  I did give a disclaimer that my groups were my guinea pigs, and then let them to it.

They loved it!

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I did learn a few things.  My directional one was the hardest clue.  It wasn’t clear, and that make it difficult.  I had to give hints a lot there.  But, otherwise, the ones who tried it loved it!

I’m hoping that since I now have created one (which, of course, like any good thing, needs to be revisited and revised to make better), I am looking towards the library breakout with new eyes.  It’s still hard to create, but I now know I can.



Presenting – my greatest fear

So I have a confession – I am terrified of public speaking.

Yes, I said it.  I am terrified of public speaking.  The thought of people staring at me while I’m talking/presenting terrifies me.

Wait.  You’re a teacher, right?  That’s what I hear a lot when I say this.  And yes, I am a teacher.  But kids, I don’t know.  It is so much easier talking to kids.  They don’t know what you’re talking about, usually there are lessons already created (by yourself, by others, etc).  I don’t know, it’s so different when you’re talking to kids.  You are that expert.  But peers, people my own age and older?!?  Um, no.  Another one I get – you used to perform on stage in front of hundreds of people!  I was playing a character, practiced it ad nauseum, and the theater was dark.  It worked somehow.

Back in high school we had to do public speaking.  I think it was sophomore year.  I will never forget this.  I cried.  I was so terrified about speaking that I literally cried.  And I NEVER cried usually.  My teacher was kind enough to let me have just a couple of friends stay after school with me as my audience, and I made it through, but oh man, it was rough.

Freshman year of college was the same way (or maybe it was sophomore year… but I digress….).  I had a 8am public speaking class.  8 freaking AM.  If I remember, I did that by choice, hoping few people would actually be willing to sign up for that early.  But nope, full class.  I told the TA (law student guy) that I was petrified of public speaking.  He was kind, understanding, and got me through it.  I think that was one of my few A’s at U of I, honestly…. I got through it, but yeah, no confidence whatsoever.

I have the same issue with performance anxiety as a musician.  I can play, but if I have a solo, I can’t do it.  I’m too terrified I’ll squeak or crack or do something, and yeah, I’m all alone out there if I do. So, yeah.  This has been a long-standing fear.

I’ve been trying to analyze my fear.  I know it’s a common fear people have.  75% of people, according to (and others), have this fear.  I believe it.

My fear stems from people thinking I’m stupid or boring (the music thing is a whole other fear so we’ll focus on speaking for now).  Now, to be fair, I never have done the most exciting topics for public speaking.  Things like weather, for instance, was a go-to.  Yeah, weather.  Bor–ring.  Also feeling like I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I’ve never been a “subject matter expert” on things really.

I did my first conference presentation in 2013.  It was at the Kappa Delta Pi Conference.  I actually presented with another person.  She was one of those more confident people.  She did a lot of the work (not for me lack of trying, it was just her thing), and she did a lot of the talking at the presentation.  I got the credit for being a presenter, but I definitely didn’t do a ton.

My first time stepping in front of a group of Sigma Alpha Iota chapter girls was just a mess.  I was supposed to speak on hazing, and other issues I had seen during my chapter visit.  Those first talks were just not up to snuff.  Talking in front of those college girls just made me anxious for days before I met with them.  Now, to be fair, I have come a long way in 6 years.  I have my hazing speech down to a science “Don’t do it!  I don’t want to deal with the paperwork!”, and yes, I have gotten better at addressing whole chapters, but that took 6.  Whole.  Years.

This fall I delved into presenting again.  I presented at the Missouri GAFE Summit.  Again, this was something that filled me with dread.  Not that I would know anyone going to my session, but the fact that I might look or sound stupid, that I wasn’t giving any information that people wanted, etc., just terrified me so.

Yet I keep going.  Tomorrow I’m giving not one but two presentations!  Luckily on the same topic, but they tagged me twice!!!  Oy.  I”m trying not to be anxious, I used my Google Chromecast and actually practiced what I might say during my presentation a couple times now.  I have a decent 40ish minute presentation.  But I’m so worried people will think it is dumb or lame or whatnot.

I know I’m not alone out there.  This is a thing. But, it’s a thing I need to get over if I’m ever going to be like my library heroes.  If I’m ever going to go far with my career beyond my library’s four walls.  So I’ll keep going up there, because maybe someday, somehow, I’ll stop thinking of presenting as my greatest fear.

Genrefication – Final results!

I just realized I never finished up and talked about my final results!!!

So, it took me roughly a week to relabel everything.  Then, came the moving.  THAT was probably one of the most difficult things to do… and made more interesting by the fact that I was collaborating with one of the ELA teachers on book speed dating!

It actually helped that we had the speed dating right around the same time that I was genrefying.  First, it helped students to see that there were changes being made.  It also helped students discover what genres interested them.  Finally, it allowed me to start the shuffle of books!  That was the best part I think.

I have seen most people easily shift their books on their carts.  But, as I stated in an earlier post, I had a previous librarian shelve books by title…. so the best thing for me was to take the books all down, one genre or so at a time, empty some shelves, and then re-alphabetize them.  Was it a pain…. um, yes.  But, in a lot of ways it was good because I was able to actually touch, assess, and really look at my collection.

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The shift took me another few days, but the end result = awesome!

My students have been very happy with the result.  I have heard many many times how much “easier” it is to find things that they want to read.  I’ve had students ask me for suggestions in their “genres,” students go right to the colored section they know they’ll enjoy, and it really is so much easier to direct people!


It’s done!  A panoramic view

But wait.  What about the catalog???  Well, I did what many people did: I changed the sublocation in Destiny to the genre. Of course when I want to, I can’t find the directions I used, and so I’ll have to save that for another post (I’m thinking I’m going to be busy at break!)

Genrefying – Part 2 – Labels

So, in part one I talked about how I was writing the genre in every book cover.  This took forever!  Well, it felt like it.  It took more like 4 more days.

I noticed something during that time – there was no way that Sci Fi and Fantasy could stay together.  There are way too many in that category to stay together.  And, it was something I considered anyhow, since I could justify having them together, but kind of not.  So, like any sane librarian, I Googled to see what others did.  I found some who kept them together; others did not.  And I could see why – one belongs with magic and spells, witchcraft, etc.  The other belongs with dystopian, with futuristic, with robots.  So, I decided to separate them.  But this led to another problem – labels.

As I showed last post, I had my categories set.  I had actually already purchased my labels (this was an exciting adventure, but one for another post) so I was stuck.  Or so I thought.  I then realized my romance section wasn’t as large as some of the others, and so by not labeling the graphic novels, I had what I needed.  🙂  So, of course I had to switch around colors.  Now, romance/relationships are purple, Sci-Fi is blue, Action/Adventure is red.  It works.

So, back to genrefying books.  As I said it took me close to 4 days just to get every book labeled with its genre.  It definitely took time!  I recommend anyone who does this to be patient and have perseverance.  There were times I wanted to just stop.  But, I got through it.

By that point, my colored labels came in.  It was an exciting day when they came in.  And it was perfect, because at that point I was working on a collaborative project with one of the ELA teachers in my building.  She does speed book dating, which I’ll get to in another post.  So, getting books labeled with extremely important to do, and do quickly.  But, there was a slight hitch – the former librarian chose to relabel book series with the start of the series title instead of the authors name.  So, I have to go back and relabel the spine labels and then put the genre labels on.  So, more time.  With 4 days in, I”m about 75% done with the fiction labeling.  I mostly just have to print and relabel spine labels and then put the genre labels on.  But, it’s going!

Oh, my favorite thing.  My students have been watching me do this for now 2 weeks if they come in the library, which most do when they need something from the printer.  The look at me and one day, one asked, “Ms Becker, are you going to have to do this to all the books?!?” Yes, yes I am.  But the end result will be worth it.

Genrefying – Part 1

So, I have decided to genrefy my new library.  Not only have I wanted to genrefy, but I feel that should help circulation.  I have seen many sites and articles stating that.  So, this is my story.

I’m starting with going through the collection and writing small on the inside cover what section it belongs to.  And I’m noticing some things.  First.  I don’t have a section for something that several books belong to, and they don’t seem to belong to something else… this is frustrating.  Had I realized, I would have ordered more/different labels.  So, I may be switching things around…. Second.  This takes a hecka long time!  I worked for around 2 hours today and got three shelves done.  That’s not including the new books I already got, plus the ones on my reshelving cart which I also got.  So, this will definitely take several more days, depending on interruptions.

Then, of course, there is the labeling itself. I just (excitedly) ordered my supplies for this.  Excited because I got to actually order myself, but that’s another story for another post.  But, yeah, they are ordered and hopefully won’t take too long to get here.  Hence why I’m doing the genre figuring out first.   I also have to relabel a hecka lot of books… another story though.

Overall, I’m excited for this project.  It is a labor of love.  But, as I talk it up more to people, I’m definitely getting some buy in.  We shall see…


My current genre list…

Proposal Writing

So, I did it.  I submitted my first solo conference proposal.  It isn’t the most elegant proposal ever, but I’m proud to say that I submitted it.  What’s the worst they can say?  No.

I’ve always said I want to be like amazing librarians like Nikki Robertson or Jen LaGarde.   I may or may not stalk their websites on and off, reading blog posts they post, and otherwise just wanting to be them.  Not because they lead glorious lives (maybe they do, I can’t truly say…) but because they stand up in front of people, possibly hundreds of people, and they don’t ever seem nervous, they don’t appear afraid.  They are out there, their words and ideas are being heard, and frankly I would like that too.

I have anxiety when it comes to speaking in front of my peers.  Now, this seems weird for a teacher who stands up and talks in front of students daily, but teaching and speaking in front of peers are really two different things.  I work with a group of high school color guard girls, and I’m perfectly fine.  But going in front of a crowd of librarians or tech people… shoot, that is just a lot.

Here’s the “but”.   But, I want to speak in front of people.  I want to be a google trainer someday.  And I know I have to start somewhere.  Everybody does, right?  This conference is a local conference – a google conference.  I figure, why the heck not start there?  So, I typed stuff up, submitted it, and yeah.   We will see.  I’m excited to just say, yes, I took that jump, and I submitted a proposal.  Go me.