August has arrived, which means families are wrapping up Summer and preparing for the new school year. They are shopping, vacationing, and scrambling to complete the summer assignments their teens were handed almost two full months ago. (Now where did I put that?) At my library nearly all of the titles on the summer reading list have multiple holds, forcing parents into either accepting their teen’s failing grade or into Barnes & Noble to purchase the over-priced hardcover. But seeing as how very few parents are in favor of failing grades, we could encourage them to get the book another way.
Mom, dad, or college-aged sibling likely own a Smartphone or tablet, and downloading the eBook to their device is simple. Either show the teen how to do it, or point them to a website that will show them the simple steps required to download the eBook. Or if all else fails, they at least know that they can read eBooks on the device, which means more money for Amazon. (I think in the case of last-minute summer reading, the library gods will forgive us for recommending purchasing titles.)
Another option is a collection development tool: have a section in your library just for paperback classics that don’t need to be checked out. Instead, allow the books to be taken out on an as-needed basis, returned only when the reader it done. My library system does this, and not only are most returned, but many are donated alongside the returned item. Paperback classics deteriorate quickly due to heavy usage, and sometimes are not worth the cost of the staff time necessary to add the barcode, cover it, and enter it into the catalog. Having a grab-and-go collection encourages people to take their time reading the classics, versus the 2-3 weeks that most libraries give their patrons to check out materials.
Lastly, have a couple in-house copies. This is especially useful if you have a Teen Center, where a teen could conceivably come in at opening and complete their required reading in-house in only a few days or a week. It could be removed from the desk on a first-come-first-served basis, but not allowed to leave the Teen Center or library.
It would be easy to say, “You should have put this on hold 2 months ago, kiddo!” but that is not the nice/appropriate thing to do (neither is withholding Rock Band because you absolutely cannot hear That’s What You Get by Paramore one. more. time). Instead, look into introducing any of the above-mentioned methods of ensuring your teens will have the required reading in their hands before school starts. Now, helping them complete the assignment is a whole new topic…