BookClubShare.com Intro Video (3 mins.)
Check out the origin story of this site!
That's me! And I'm at the Edcamp that started it all...
Image credit: J. Valenza
The site banner is a picture of my very indulgent wife handing me a copy of Joe Hill's The Fireman.
Image credit: S. Tetreault
"I Made a Thing!": Translating Librarian Thoughts Into Practical Tools
This site came about thanks to an unconference, an unexpectedly warm reception to an idea, and a persistent professor.
In March 2018, I was at the Team Edcamp unconference for School Library Media Specialists' professional development, sponsored in part by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL). Although I was a 20-year veteran teacher and had presented at numerous edcamps in the past, this time I was there as a student; I was in the process of earning certification and an MLIS degree. Since, according to Socrates, "True knowledge consists of knowing that you know nothing," I was trying to keep my mouth closed and my ears open as I learned from all the professionals in attendance who were discussing their knowledge and experiences as SLMSs and teacher-librarians (TLs).
While in a workshop session to discuss building a culture of reading in schools, the gathered librarians started to discuss their work with book clubs. Several discussed how they had large collections of book club materials sitting in storage rooms; they wished there was a way to exchange with other schools and librarians, but their experiences trying to utilize the interlibrary loan system was mostly not great for this particular project.
It seemed to me that the basic idea was pretty straight-forward - what was needed was a shared document where people could list what they had, and look to see what other people were offering. While the discussion went on, I threw together a Google Spreadsheet, set the permissions so anyone who visited it could add information to it, and made a Bitly.com shortened link so it would be easy for people to find online. I dubbed it the "Interschool Library Loan Sheet," threw a short explanation of what it was and how it worked at the top, and made sure the bit-link was on there.
As the conversation about the problems with the ILL wrapped up, I threw my spreadsheet up on the projection screen. “Would something like this work?” I asked, as I pointed out the features and the short link (bit.ly/bookclubsharing). People seemed pretty responsive to the idea.
I was glad I was able to take the general concept expressed by my future colleagues and turn it into a usable tool. The beauty of this kind of open resource is that it’s open to iteration and improvement as people try it out and learn what’s helpful and what’s not in doing this kind of exchange.
Half an hour later during lunch, Dr. Valenza stopped by my table. She was not only one of my professors in my MLIS program, but also my advisor, and one of the coordiantors of the Team Edcamp event. She suggested that my humble spreadsheet might be worth presenting at the afternoon "App Smackdown", where anyone who wanted could share neat things they'd learned.
Folks seemed pretty stoked about the idea of having this tool available to them; and I was glad to know I had been able to move the cause forward with my simple creation.
But as I got ready to leave at the end of the day, Dr. V pulled me aside. "We should discuss this some more," she intoned, with a sparkle in her eye. A few phone calls and email exchanges later, and I was hip-deep in creating a national book exchange! Fortunately, Dr. V suggested "#BookClubShare" as a name to organize around, or you might be looking at "National Inter-school Book Share" right now...
I firmly believe that there's nothing as important to learning and education as fostering a love of reading. I hope that this site can help schools and libraries around the country connect and share materials, and help encourage that love of reading.