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I have started reading David Loertscher's book "The New Learning Commons: Where learners win!" and have several questions I would love to discuss with other media specialists.

Should we acquire the books kids want to read vs. acquire the books adults think the children need to be reading? This is a greater question than just the budget issue.

Along with this, should we allow students to check out as many books as they can be responsible for vs. a tightly controlled number (like 2 books apiece)?

Loerscher's book asks us to rethink our "open and they will come to us" philosophy. We should think more like the creators of Google. What do you think?

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I have not yet purchased Loertscher's book, though I see now that I had better. I have struggled with the issue of purchasing books that we adults think are "good' for kids versus books the kids themselves want to read. While I don't feel I have a firm handle on it, the success of the Twilight series in my middle school media center has certainly influenced me toward letting kids read what interests them. It doesn't do anyone any good to try to force kids to read things they aren't interested in reading. My background is in ESL and I know there is a large body of research that supports the idea that "free choice" reading builds language skills more quickly than anything else. I am pretty sure this is true of reading in general, not just in learning a language. As a result of my recent reading and experience, I have begun buying more of the "popular" books such as graphic novels and movie related titles. The fact that a several books I really like have come out as movies recently has actually made the whole "movie book" idea much more palatable. By the way, if you haven't seen "Coraline", run out right now and see it in 3-D. I doesn't exactly match the book, but the differences make for really interesting discussion.
These are two good questions for us all to ponder if we haven't yet thought them through. I am an elementary librarian and spend most of my reading time reading children's books--for two reasons. First, the students can tell if I try to book talk or "sell" a book that I haven't read. They can read the blurb as well as I can. But also, I need to know what they are reading and what they like so that I recognize books that will be well received when I see them. I am on the selection committee for our state's student-voted best books. I am constantly frustrated by persons on the committee who read the contenders through their own lens rather than that of our students.
I already allow quite a few books to be checked out to our students--their grade level plus one (so, kindergarteners can check out one book but sixth graders can check out seven at any one time). But several schools in our system have gone to unlimited checkout. After the initial frenzy, they all have said that it settles down to reasonableness. And they don't have more overdue notices--it is just that the usual suspects have more books overdue!
I allow my students to check out as many books as they want and we don't charge any late fees. I buy books that they want to read. I can't wait to get my hands on the Loertscher's book! Not to mention that some adults have no idea what students "should" be reading. This is a discussion that would lead all over the place.
We check out 5 books per student at our high school.
I hope I haven't misled anyone, Loertscher's book is about a much larger question than just budget and circulation. He is asking us to think about totaling shifting our thinking about the library, with our patrons as clients and the media center (which he calls the learning commons) as a true hub of the school, including the leading place for professional development.
I am loving our conversation, I am now seriously rethinking how to spend the end of my budget, maybe a student wish list survey to help me decide, and maybe rethinking our checkout policy. I was relieved to hear that often circulation returns to a more normal one. One of my big issues with a no limit circulation is getting the books reshelved!
Do any of you have an online catalog, and if so, can your students reserve books online?
We have an online catalog but students can't reserve with it. I would need to create passwords for all of them to enable that feature. The shelving isn't bad. I have very few students who take out more than one at a time. The manga goes out in multiples but comes back in quickly-since I have them by sets they are easy to shelve. A student wishlist sounds like a great idea. Maybe a collection that you have always wanted-like graphic novels, playaways, verse novels?
We have to enter the holds for the students and because this is used so much, we have created a clipboard for them to write their holds and then once a day my clerk enters them, in order, into the system. This keeps the checkout lines from slowing down. And she can set the expiration date for the holds--since we don't have Twilight in our elementary library, the Guinness World Record is the one that already has enough holds to last the rest of the year (and we have four circulating copies!) so that doesn't expire until the last day of checkout.
I love this conversation as I am one who tells the students they may check out as many books as they feel they need and are willing to be responsible for. I find that most don't take but 1 to 3 at a time. But some of my avid readers to take several. I have not seen any increase in lost books or even overdue books.
I do spend the majority of my budget on books the students want to read, which in my school, fiction is king! We are a 7th/8th grade campus and students want the "edgier" books. It's a tough spot though because many times a book is reviewed for 8th & up. Sometimes the books are just fine and sometimes "too mature" for this age. I have to be very careful. But I now have students come in and ask for "Young Adult" books, saying that's what they like to read, not the kids books!
My students are able to go online to place books on hold. I love this feature and push its use. The only frustration I have is that the hold only stays on for 30 days, then is dropped. With books like Twilight's density, many students take longer than 30 days to read, therefore I end up with several expired holds. I do let students know to check for the status of their holds so they can put a new hold if theirs expires.
Hi all,
I am at the end of my spring break :(, but I have some of this time reflecting on what changes I would like to see in my media center. I don't mean physical changes, although I will probably do that, too, I mean philosophy changes.
One thing I plan to implement is "Read off for lost books". I have some students who have lost books and their families have no way to pay for the book. I was really upset that they could not check out anything until this was resolved. So I am taking a page from my public library,and will now allow students to come in at recess and read off the cost of the book. I did have a talk with my principal first, and we decided that since the book was already gone, money lost, this would at least give some students the opportunity to "pay back" the library and feel confident coming back in. I'll let you all know how it goes!
I have also finished off my budgeted money with student-chosen titles. Yep, that mean's Capt. Underpants and Babymouse, but after more reflection and rereading of Stephen Krashen's book I decided this was of equal importance to content driven books.
Anyone else reflecting on possible philosophy changes?


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