Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Joy and Frustration of Empty Shelves

Purchasing books for the school library is an exercise in balancing the constraints of money, space, and mission (to educate? to entertain?) with the students' requests for certain books and the popularity (possibly short-lived) of certain series.

When I see empty shelves because all the books have been checked out, I am thrilled that we have books that the kids love, and I  regret I don't - can't - have more of them.  The Wimpy Kid shelf is perpetually empty, as are the shelves designated for other popular series, such as Captain Underpants and Big Nate, as well as the graphic novel shelf.  I have four copies of Smile and it is rarely back in the library for more than a few minutes.  I encourage the children, particularly the ones who I know have regular access to the public library, to seek them out there, but you know kids.  It's all about immediate gratification.

A rare sighting of TWO Wimpy Kid books on the shelf!
We don't have more than four copies of any book.  Our school has 600 students and the library can't consist just of Wimpy Kid and books by Raina Telgemeier, much as the students might wish it did!  (Oh, and Minecraft - which the children always request and of which we have none.  Because I refuse to have video-game or television or movie based books in the school library.)  With some of these series consisting of 10 books or more, if I had four copies of each one... well, you see the problem.  And what happens in a few years, if Wimpy Kid et al. is no longer popular?

However, because of the way we schedule library time, the first class to grab those Wimpy Kid books keeps getting them.  They come on the first Monday of the year, take them out, and then every time they return them, they circulate to other children in the same class.  Thursday classes are out of luck. We need a new system.

One idea I've proposed is that that every time a Wimpy Kid or other similarly popular book is returned, we should not let it immediately recirculate.  We should hold it until the next class comes in, or even until the next day.  As a matter of policy - and simplicity - we don't allow holds on books.

How many copies of popular books do you have at your/your child's school library?  How do you make sure as many children as possible have access to them?

Photos of the books I DID purchase to follow in a later post!

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