Many schools are winding down in the next few weeks. For the school library, that means trying to get all materials returned and then inventoried. Do you have trouble getting your students to return materials? What about teachers? Do you collect their materials too?
Our school system has set procedures for closing up shop for the year. Three weeks from the last school day for students is the last day to check out books. All books are due at the two-week mark. We have normally not had issues with these dates, but two years ago, several students became very upset by this rule. We tried to explain why we had to stop checking out books so early (inventory, etc.), but several took upon themselves to start “stealing” whole manga series! When finally caught with the 20+ books in their backpacks, they said they were just borrowing them until the last day of school. Needless to say, we have kids who LOVE to read but think the rules do not apply to them.
We have also run into the issue of kids not wanting to return books because they may have accumulated our max overdue fine of $5.00. To encourage kids to return their books, we designate one week near the end of the school year as “Fine Free Week”. Students can return any overdue books for free! Yes, it would be awesome to have the money that we lose from these fines, but I would rather have the book back even more.
So what about teachers? Our school system asks that all teachers return materials (books, DVDs, etc.), but many of our teachers argue that they are the only one to use a certain book or DVD, so why not just keep it in their room. As a former classroom teacher, I understand that, but as a media specialist, I like to know that the materials are accounted for, inventoried, and housed in the media center over the summer. You would be surprised how many teachers “claim” to have a book or DVD in their room, but it no longer exists because it was lost or stolen. Returning library materials is now included on our school’s teacher summer check-off sheet that is due before leaving for the summer.
Inventory is the biggest part of our end of the year procedures. Once books are turned in, it usually takes about three days to complete our inventory. We do use two-three very responsible student helpers for the process. As with any inventory, it is a tedious process, but we are able to use the results to order missing or damaged materials. We also use this time to run an end of the year report of our circulation. Again, this is valuable data that tells us what our students are reading most, what programs are working best, and what goals we need to set for the next year.
In addition to collecting materials and completing inventory, we also use the end of the year to “clean up” our technology. We delete user profiles and do a disk cleanup on all desktop and laptop computers. Chromebook profiles are deleted, and iPads are updated. Schools with maker spaces would want to check all equipment and materials for damage and working order, as well as reorganize for the next year.
I would love to say that closing up a school library was as easy as just dusting off the shelves and locking the doors, but there are many important steps in the process in order to maintain a successful library program. As tedious as many of these steps can be, they are well worth it when you open in the fall ready to start a new year!