Teaching Patrons to Find Books

This is from one of my old blogs that never really took off. I'm copying this short article in hopes it might be helpful to someone else. Please add other ideas you
have about how to teach patrons how to find books.

How Might the Media Center Itself Teach Patrons to Find Book

When I first started the year, I thought I would teach students how find books in the library by teaching them a lesson. It wasn’t long before I learned that this would probably take several lessons. I was really lucky that the teacher at my school were willing to give me the time to present three lessons to their classes. During the first session, I taught about the fiction section and during the second session I taught about nonfiction or numbered section. (As we know, all the books in the nonfiction section are not nonfiction.) During the third session, I taught the students how to use the online catalog. Each lesson consisted of an explanation, questions and answers, and a worksheet which required the students to actually apply what they were learning either by finding particular books or by finding book entries on the online catalog.
But even after these three lessons, many of the students didn’t appear to know any more than they did at the beginning of the year. I think my lessons were adequate but maybe my lessons were spread too far apart. By the time they had come for their second or third lesson, they had forgotten what they had learned in the previous lesson. Clearly the students needed more reinforcement of what they’d been learning. Yet I also knew that many of the teachers were squeezed to find the time to bring the students to the library for fifteen minutes every two weeks.
Do you have this book? right after the online lesson
What to do?
I’m now working to create a media center that will itself teach the students how to find the books
they want. I first began to realize this after I put up some new signs on the fiction shelves that are visible from the circulation desk. The first sign says “AB” and the second one says “CD”. Now when a student asks if we have a particular book, I tell them the name of the author. They give me a blank look and I ask, “Do you see that sign with the ‘S’. The signs I made were fairly large and plain and so far it’s never taken long for the student to see the sign. They know where to go and then they see that I’ve labeled each shelf. One-half of one shelf is labeled “SA” and the other half is labeled “SCH”. Occasionally I need to give a student a little more direction, but usually the students are able to find the book they are seeking.
Becky Schaller