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 estimates 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; students at the Leaning Center were not reading the books and it was difficult for the extremely busy staff to keep track of where books were. Books were piled randomly on shelves and many had yet to be unpacked from the boxes they had arrived in.

The Project

TLAM students began collaborating with the Learning Center with the goal of cataloging the collection, making the books accessible to students and staff, and eventually promoting 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 which allows the Learning Center to organize its books how they want.

By August of 2012, TLAM students had unpacked and entered into LibraryThing most of the Learning Center’s books. It turned out that the growing collection contained over 1500 titles! Students along with the Center’s staff decided on a tagging language for the collection and created a labeling system, as well as acquiring bookcases, bookcarts, filing cabinets, magazine holders, and bookends for the Learning Center. During the spring of 2013, students created a database of Accelerated Reader books in the collection, reorganized and shelved the collection, and created a simple circulation system for Learning Center staff to use.

Going Forward

Students hope to continue collaborating with the Ho-Chunk Learning Center, promoting literacy through book clubs, storytimes, and other special events. Some work that might be done includes the creation of collection development and donation guidelines. Finally, there is the potential for trainings in LibraryThing in order for students and staff to expand the collection and label books using the Ho-Chunk language, Hocąk.