Monday, March 29, 2010

I am amazed at what others are able to achieve...

Last week I spent a considerable amount of time researching how to set up a self checkout system for our students. We have the module on Oliver, we have smart cards and we have a 3M security system with RFID tage in all the resources, as well as a deactivation pad, so we have everything we need to get it going. We will be piloting it next term after the Easter break.

Some of the comments I have received have been "Do you think you can trust the students to do the right thing?". I am sure we can trust them as much as we can trust them now, and there will be 'supervisors' to start with. We will only be doing check out with the system.

While undergoing this research I asked another Teacher Librarian in an elementary school about the set up self checkout in their school. She replied with all the standard information of how it is set up but then continued to tell me that the students not only self checkout, they also self checkin the resources, and then, shelved them in the right places! Their age will depend on what they reshelve. All students reshelve their fiction returns, Non fiction may only be shelved if they are comfortable shelving it - otherwise they leave it in a box for the year 5 monitors to reshelve. They are a school of about 500 students from year 1-6, they have one TL and one assistant.

Years 1-3 have 15mins borrowing time in "library time" whereas 4-6 need to come at break times to borrow.

This was a wow moment for me - for our library, shelving and circulation take up so much of the Library assistants time - between 25-50% of their daily tasks. (Based on an activity log we did over 2 weeks). We have a very loose student helper program, where they help with circulation at lunch times, but they do not do shelving.

Having students do their own checkout, checkin AND shelving would allow so much more of the Library assistants time to be directed in other areas. It also opens up some questions - What would it take to get the students to such a level of competency? What would the benefits be to the students? For us? What would the downsides be?

What would it take? Total commitment on behalf of the staff to teach the students how to do not only the checkin and out (the easy part) but to take responsibility to reshelve the resources in the right place. To ingrain in the students to be principled enough to do it properly. I would start with one year group and work down - or work up - the little ones are probably better learners, and would be more enthusiastic, and if the older ones see them doing it, then they would want to do it as well.

What would the benefits be to the students? Confidence in using the library, a greater understanding of how the systems work for them, they would be exposed to more options for reading as they reshelve, a greater independence and possibly a greater ownership of the library - it would become their library.

Benefits for us? Less time on circulation and shelving if it was done properly.

The downsides? This would need a lot of time, consistency and total commitment to implement and ensure the students are doing what they need to be doing properly. In the beginning I can see many resources not being shelved properly, nor being returned properly.

Overall I do think the positives outweigh the short term negatives and may be something to commit to next year when we have a PYP TL and an MYP TL. All the staff need to be on board - including classroom teachers.

What do you think? Do you have a similar programme in your library - please share how you manage it if you do!

Thanks to Annette for inspiring me to think broader and give the students opportunities to grow and be more independent!


MrsE said...

This is a super idea, well worth trying. What a great way to teach kids their alphabet, an authentic activity. In my years as an elementary school librarian some of my very best helpers were 6-year-olds. They took pride in their work and never tired of taking the books back to their correct homes. I say go for it!

librariantiff said...

I think this is a lot more doable than most would think! I'm at a 2 and 3 grade school, and I have library club members (two chosen from each class by an application process) who operate book check out for their class. I've taught them to help with shelving but there just isn't time. This past week I did little experent. With the advanced grade 3 class I explained the shelving process then had them try it by giving them each a book. They went nuts and had an entire days worth of books (about 250) shelved in about 10 minutes! I've been kicking myself for not doing this sooner and I'm trying to find a good way to put this into frequent use!