About the Learning Center
The Ho-Chunk Youth Services Learning Center in Baraboo, WI, serves K-12 youth in the Wisconsin Dells area by providing after-school tutoring, Ho-Chunk language classes, cultural activities, recreational outings, and other youth programming. The Learning Center staff estimate that they get about 30 to 50 students coming into the center each week on average. The Learning Center had a collection of several hundred neglected and under-utilized children’s and YA books - the kids were not reading them and it was difficult for the extremely busy staff to keep track of where books where. Books were piled randomly on shelves and many had yet to be unpacked from the boxes they had arrived in.
TLAM students began collaborating with the Learning Center with the goal of cataloging the collection, make the books accessible to students and staff, and eventually to promote some literacy initiatives such as book clubs and reading groups. To organize the books, the group turned to the online cataloging service LibraryThing.
The flexibility and simplicity of an organizational account, compared with other database or cataloging software, made LibraryThing well-suited to the Learning Center’s needs. In particular, the service allows for customizable tagging feature which will allow the Learning Center to organize its books according to the categories of classes their students took and student age groups – eventually tags in the traditional Ho-Chunk language will be developed as well. In using LibraryThing for their catalog, the Ho-Chunk Nation Youth Service Learning Center is joining the ranks of many other small organizations that use the online service for their library catalogs, including businesses, museums, US embassies, and churches.
By August of 2011 TLAM students had unpacked and entered into LibraryThing the majority of the Learning Center’s books. It turned out that the growing collection contained over 1500 titles! Moving into 2012, we are looking to complete the LibraryThing cataloging process, finalize the Learning Center’s preferred tagging system, and begin physically arranging the books for use. As the Learning Center has begun to run short of shelf space, TLAM students are providing assistance in finding additional shelves as well as a book cart and other supplies. Plans are also developing for TLAM to help teach the Learning Center’s students about using their books with the LibraryThing catalog. Possible goals for the future include developing literacy programming such as book clubs or reading groups.