I was at the public library yesterday and overheard a conversation between two moms/guardians of what seemed to be elementary school aged children. They were lamenting about the fact that their children are unable to check out books from the school library for the rest of the school year. They weren’t angry, but obviously disappointed that their children are not allowed to check out books anymore. Kudos for them on being at the public library!
That had me thinking – how many school librarians are clear with teachers, administrators, and parents about what goes on in the school library at the end of the school year? I know that in my experience, I would typically stop checking out books about two weeks before the end of the school year. I never really shared the reasons why with my stakeholders. Looking back and thinking ahead, I think it is important to do so.
If you are wondering why your school librarian has stopped checking out books, even though there seems to be plenty of time left in the school year to do so, here is what’s going on in the library (when they aren’t still seeing students on a fixed schedule or doing “other duties as assigned”) – the school librarian is…
- checking records everyday to see how many books are still out.
- sending reminders to parents and teachers about which books they have out.
- visiting classrooms to look in desks, bookshelves, etc. to find missing library books.
- planning incentives to celebrate classrooms who have turned in books.
- running circulation reports for state surveys and annual reports.
- shelving books as they come in.
- organizing devices (iPads, Chromebooks, etc.) that do not go home with students and teachers over the summer.
- scanning each and every book in the collection for inventory (this can mean touching more than 15,000 books…not to mention items like laptops, tablets, and other materials housed in a school library…inventory means scanning EVERYTHING…not just the print materials). Inventory is important for several reasons. I would often find books that were checked out to students and teachers; I would locate items we thought we had lost; I would find books that needed to be weeded. An inventory updates the online catalog so that when someone goes to find a book, it is actually on the shelf. For more reasons why inventory is important, here is an excellent blog post explaining why inventory is so important.
There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work in a school library. Inventory is just one small part.
And, now you know 🙂