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Be A Library Detective

Years ago, as a brand new librarian, I attended a librarian round table discussion. Each librarian was asked to share something that they had found success with in their own library. A very experienced librarian, who retired that very year, shared that she had her students earn library licenses. I fell in LOVE with the idea!! And ... my second graders have completed a "Library Detective" unit each year since.

What skills do I teach them?
I want my students to understand that finding books in the library is a bit like being a detective. They need to read clues (like signage and call numbers) to locate certain books. Essentially, I want them to know that in my library ...
  1. Books are divided into three main book sections: nonfiction, picture, and chapter. The upstairs of the call number is the clue to “Which” section a book is found.
  2. The downstairs of the call number comes from the first three letters of the author’s last name. Books are located in each section of the library in alphabetical order according to these letters.
  3. The nonfiction section of the library is organized according to numbers, also known as the Dewey Decimal System. Individual topics have individual numbers. Once you have found one horse book; you have found them all. They are grouped together!

How do I get started?
In order to engage students in this information, I use a PPT to kick the unit off and introduce the unit as a “detective” unit and hook them with the idea that they will be able to earn their own library detective license. First, we discuss what a detective is, and what their job in the real world entails. Then we talk about "licensing" and brainstorm a few things in the real world that people need a license for {driving, hunting, teaching, cutting hair, being a doctor}. Finally, we discuss HOW people get licenses, and that many licenses require learning, practicing, and yes ... even test taking!! By the time that my introduction is complete, students understand that they will be required to take a series of tests to earn their library license.

During the introductory discussion, I show them an example of the library detective license that they will be earning. They always get super excited to think that they will have their own picture on their very own license. I show them how I will add a barcode to the back of their licenses, and then they can use the licenses to checkout books. They think that it's like magic!!

Do you believe in the power of discovery?
I certainly do! I could simply TELL the kids that the top of the call number is different in each of the three sections of the library, that the bottom of the call number is related to the authors last name, and that the nonfiction section is organized by DDD. However, I believe that by discovering this for themselves that they will REALLY remember it, so I send students off to investigate and to complete Rookie Cases.
I give each of the kiddos a magnifying lens that I borrowed from my Science teachers and a clipboard. They are so cute as they set about their Rookie Cases. Here they are investigating the "upstairs" of a call number to see if they can find any patterns in the different sections of the library.
Throughout the unit, my second graders investigate both the upstairs and downstairs of call number, the alphabetical order of the fiction sections, and the Dewey Decimal system in the nonfiction section. By the time that the kiddos take their tests, they are well-versed in library organization. They pass those tests with flying colors!!
If you are interested in having your own library media center invaded with library detectives, head on over to my TpT Store. If you download the FREE preview of the product, you will have ALL of my unit notes, examples, and explanations. Yup. For FREE. You could easily adapt the concept for your own library. Give it a go!! Your kids will love you for it.

Happy Hunting Friends!!

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