Thursday, June 5, 2014

End of Year Book Returns

One of the busiest times for school libraries occurs as the school year comes to an end.  It is a time to resolve overdue book issues and return books to the shelves before the great summer exodus.  It is important to start early and be visible and tenacious.

Most of us make use of  reminder slips, announcements and notices on the school websites and newsletters.  But what else can we do to make returning books to the library an adventure for students, rather than a chore?

1)  Instead of relying solely on boring lists of missing books, create a game where students can help locate them.

Library Displays: Missing Book Titles. What a great idea to get students interacting with books!
Found on

Some of my schools hold a Great Barcode Hunt on the last days of classes.  Students search the classrooms, lockers and all over the school for books with barcodes to return to the library.

2) Host a contest with a prize (pizza, ice cream or popcorn party, a special viewing of a movie in the library, extra computer free time, extra gym/outdoor period, etc) for the class that gets all their books back to the library first. I like to include teachers in the contest since teacher resources are one of my highest losses. Maybe issue certificates to post on the doors of classes:

3) Have classes create their own WANTED posters and post them throughout the school.  There are so many ways to do this.  They can create fictional characters who have left their books, draw missing book posters, create book outlaws.

4) Make library reminder announcements interesting.  
A 5-part Dr. Seuss-style poem has been adapted in most of my schools.  The kids actually stop and listen to it and are eager for the next installment. It's a chance to use your creative writing and speaking skills.  Here is a tiny excerpt from the poems:  

Comb through your lockers
Bottom and top
And under the lunch
That all but the flies forgot

Look in the closets
And under the stairs
Behind all your toys
And old teddy bears
Books are so quiet
They don’t make a sound
When they get lost
 They’re not easily found

We’re missing a few Lioni’s
And some Dr. Seusses
And books about hockey
And some Mother Gooses
We’ve sent out notices
 And asked you through rhyme
 But still lots are missing
And we’re soon out of time

Each book you return is
Welcomed with a cheer
‘Cause some other student
can read it next year
Book Return Poem credited to Mr. T. Flynn

5) Create countdown signs or class counts.  Post them by the library and keep classes updated with daily announcements over the P.A.
via absentlibrarian


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