Are you struggling to get all of your students’ books checked out in a timely fashion? Do you feel like you are running in a million different directions and not able to answer everyone’s question? Have you ever felt like pulling your hair out at the end of a class? I know I have!
Thankfully I have been blessed with an amazing library assistant, so most of the time there are two of us to handle book check-out. However, the past couple of years she is constantly pulled to cover classrooms. So I am often by myself and have felt the frustration many times. There is so much to do during this time other than checking out books: help students search the catalog, locate books, provide readers advisory and answer any other questions the kids have. Add in phone calls from the office and teachers popping in to look for materials and you end up with a very chaotic time.
I have come up with a few strategies and ideas that you can implement to help ease the chaos. And since we are approaching the end of the year you might want to just keep these in mind for the start of next school year.
1. Use a laser pointer
This is a brilliant idea. Another librarian suggested this to me a couple years ago and I wish I had known about it sooner. Most of the questions that I answer are about the location of a book. If I can’t physically show the student where the book is then I will describe it’s location for them. “It’s on the bookshelf next to the printer, the third shelf down from the top. It’s to the right of the football books. In the blue bin to the left of the green bin.” Instead of saying all of this, I can take my laser pointer and point directly to the spot they need to go. This is a huge timesaver, especially when you are stuck behind the circulation desk.
2. Ask 3 then me
3. Two check-out lines
Have students form two check-out lines at the circulation desk. One line is just for book check-out. The other line is just for questions. This will help you to multi-task more efficiently – check-out books and answer questions.
4. Dewey cheat sheets
5. Book request sticky notes
Use this idea when students request a specific book and you do not have the time to go find the book for them. When a student asks for a book, tell them that you will have to find the book and give it to them at a later time. Then grab a sticky note. Write the student’s name, their teacher’s name and the book title on the note. Then, when you get a chance to pull the book you can take the sticky note and put it right on the book.
And did you know that you can print on sticky notes too? You can! It’s really quite simple. For the book request notes, I created a template with the information on it that will need to be filled out (student name, teacher, book title, call #). Once the template was printed out, I placed 6 sticky notes in the boxes on the paper. Then I put the paper back in the printer and voila! I have 6 sticky notes ready to go. I printed off a stack of these and have them in a folder so when I need them I can just grab the sticky note and jot down the information (or have the student do it).
- Parent volunteers
- Stagger your check-out times
- Make check-out a library center
- Put stuffed animals and other props on your bookshelves for the different Dewey sections
- Put more popular books/series in different colored bins. This will help students to find these books easier.