This week’s small success, while related to technology, is primarily a story of relationships.

One of my biggest goals as a new school librarian looks a lot like one of the biggest goals I had as in my last job as a reference librarian: to get more people to utilize subscription databases.  We know that students are better off beginning their research process in a database with authoritative articles, but until getting on a database is as easy as pulling up Google on a smart phone, it is unlikely that students will turn to databases first.

In an attempt to make this process easier for students, I put a QR code on the database password handout that would take students straight to our media center webpage and patted myself on the back for being tech savvy.  Very quickly I learned that most teenagers aren’t familiar with QR codes, nor do they have QR code reader apps on their phones.  (My supervisor is still teasing me about my use of this antiquated technology.)

A casual conversation with a student turned this failure into a small win.

This particular student is one of several who are in the media center every day, students who have been kind enough to let me pick their brains about current technology and how they search for information.  They’ve also been tremendously helpful in critiquing my efforts; the feedback they provided on a research help website for students that I was building on Weebly greatly strengthened the final project.

When I asked this student if he utilized QR codes, he said while he didn’t, Snapchat has a QR code reader built into it.

Flash forward to later that day in the computer lab when I was instructing students on how to access our databases.  I casually mentioned that they could use Snapchat to take a picture of “that funny looking block” on the password handout to pull up the media center website on their phone, and watched their excitement as they proceeded to do so (and I reminded them to bookmark the page).  I’d finally found an easy access route for students to get on the databases.

So what did I learn from all of this?

My work in a school library is based on the same core principals as my work in public libraries.  Valuing the opinions and expertise of our patrons builds a collegial relationship. Building relationships not only ensures that patrons will seek me out when they need help, but also ensures that I’ll get constructive feedback on the services I’m providing and valuable input on how I could be improving these services.

Karla Ivarson, media specialist at Toms River High School North, was a reference and teen librarian in the Ocean County Library system and a Social Studies teacher at Brick Memorial High School.  She devours comic books, spins hoops and frails on the banjo.

Harnessing Snapchat’s QR Code Reader to Get Students Using Databases, or How Soliciting Feedback From Teens Made Me Look Like a Genius
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