Monday, June 4, 2012

Trying Out Summer Checkout

I'll make a confession. Summer checkout makes me very nervous. I know all the arguments about the books sitting on the shelf for weeks isn't helping anyone and the books belong to our students. I know and I agree, but it still caused me to hold my breath when I thought about it. We have a high level of poverty in our school, which means a large number of transient students. Here one day, gone tomorrow or moving from mother's to father's to grandma's house and losing books along the way. Add to the that the inability to pay for those lost books and it just made me nervous. We have these problems when I see them regularly and hunt them down all year so I knew sumer check out was a risk. I have thought about summer hours, but our cleaning staff is usually in the building waxing floors and other big projects that can only be done with no students around so scheduled hours wasn't feasible. Transportation is another issue that makes me think I would not have a big turn out even if I were able to open. Excuses, excuses...

Well, finally a solution presented itself. First I saw a tweet from Beth Redford (@bethredford) about her summer checkout which led me to her post. Then I saw this post from @Mrsreaderpants and I decided to go for it.
I created a short permission slip that students would have to return to me with parent signature and I emailed this to our English teachers with instructions to share with readers, especially those that probably could not afford to satisfy their reading habit with book purchases. I also put in the stipulation that they could not owe me books or have a history of late or lost books. This is a small group that I usually know by name. Granted this was on the last full day of school, but I still had 5 students come to the library the next day with permission and big smiles on their faces. I had two more today and one that had already finished a few over the weekend and wanted to trade for more.
I'll admit I was actually glad that it was a small group because I want to see how this goes, build up my confidence and try again next year with more preplanning.
Thanks to Beth Redford and Mrs. Readerpants for inspiring me!

Here is a pic of one of my lovelies leaving with his stack of books. I played around with the picture in the new app Snapseed on my iPad, thus the grungy look to the photo. Snapseed


  1. I understand your trepidation. This summer I am also trying the idea of summer checkout. Our population is very poor (95%+ qualify for free lunch) and can be very transient. However, the nearest public library is 40 minutes away from our school (quite a bit further for most students) so getting books over the summer is quite difficult.

    I sent out a permission slip similar to yours about 4 days before school was out. I had 3 students return it (although I only asked for one slip from each family, so it really represented around 11 students.) Our first summer hours will be this coming Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I'm really hoping that people will show up! If not, I have plenty to keep me occupied. :D

  2. I allow summer checkout, but I don't advertise it. :)

    Those students who read a lot are ones who ask me and I let them go ahead and check books out. They can return them to our main office or the public library or hold them 'till August. I also ILL to our public library. We're in a small, rural town so the YA selection there isn't that great - I get emails from the local librarian asking for titles or suggestions.

    I hope your summer checkout works well fo you and your students!

  3. YAY! I am so glad to hear other librarians are doing summer checkout! I did it as well (we are a new school, so I wanted to set a precedent) and with 200 kids, I had over 250 books checked out in the last two days of school. About one third of our students checked out books. I allowed students who had returned all of their books on Friday (allowing me two work days for inventory) to check out up to 5 books for the summer.

    They had to fill out a form in their own handwriting listing the five books, and I made two extra copies. One will go home with their report card, the original stayed with them, and one will stay for the library.

    Fingers Crossed!

  4. I'll be curious to see what the return rate you have is! Our public library is a five minute walk from our school, and many of the students walk, but I approached Half Price Books, and they gave me 8 huge boxes of paperbacks that I distributed to students, so I don't feel too bad. My collection is the core of two summer school remedial classes, so I don't know that I could do this, but it's a great idea!

  5. Hi, Tamara. Somehow I missed this back in June when you posted it...I am so glad to see you gave summer checkouts a try! Please let me know how it goes!