Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 13:48:17 -0500
From: Donna Cook
Subject: Re: HS TARGET How do you increase student circulation of materials?

Make it easy to checkout. I’ve seen high school libraries that have unmanned circulation desks, and, maybe worse, when a student approaches with an item, a student aide or the clerk heaves a sigh, doesn’t make any eye contact, and acts like checking out is the biggest imposition she has to deal with all day.

I don’t have a clerk, but I make sure my student aides know why we are here. I also encourage at every opportunity students checking out themselves. When a student approaches the circ counter with a book, all the work I’ve done up to that point (ordering, MARC records, shelving, promotion) suddenly has meaning and purpose.

Let students checkout even though they have fines or other items out or even overdue. You’ll get it all back when semester exams roll around. Convey the idea that their having materials is much more important than a little fine or an overdue item that you are sure they’ll bring back tomorrow. Stop fines at $1.00 in every case. You’re not trying to make money–just make a point and keep things flowing.

Don’t have restrictions on the number of items checked out. When a student asks me, “how many can I checkout?” I usually say, “As much as you need; it’s all for you.”

Check out videos, DVDs, CDs, magazines, graphic novels, audio cassettes–things students want.

Here’s a little thing that gets overlooked, but it addresses the whole attitude of the library: if you have double doors to the library, be sure BOTH open. If one stays latched, it conveys the wrong message. The library has to be OPEN–not half locked.

Display books and items on top of computer CPUs, next to computer monitors, on all shelves that are 3/4 full of spine-out books. Use the millions of dollars of promotion that comes into your library on covers.

Finally: promote reading. In three words, since you’re in Texas–Tayshas, Tayshas, Tayshas. Promote those titles ( at every opportunity. Make opportunities to promote those titles. It may take a year or 18 months, but students will learn the library has GOOD books. Buy those page-sized sign holders that stand on tables, and make signs about the Tayshas books,copying the covers from the Internet. (Example: It Happened in the Summer: Tayshas 2005-06 and then covers of Monsoon Summer; Zigzag; Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; No Laughter Here) Put those signs on the tables. Move them around every now and then.

Go to English classes with a Power Point to introduce the Tayshas books. One class can see about 15 titles in 20 minutes. Give a written quiz at theend (fill in the blank or matching) that you grade in less than five minutes and return to the teachers. Teachers will love you and invite you back.

Put the Tayshas book tag in the 586 tag of the MARC records so that students can find them in an OPAC search.

If you don’t live in Texas, you could promote the Printz Award books or the Alex Award books, or the ALA BBYA lists. Or even if you live in Texas–promote those books too. They are terrific titles that students come to expect in your happening library.

The library: where EVERY student is gifted.