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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

How to Make a Case to allow Young People To Take Out More Books

A Louisiana Librarian Asked for Help Making the Case that Her Young People Be Allowed to Borrow More than Two Books

I asked Betty Carter — for first posed the question of how many books young people were allowed to borrow — for suggestions. She sent the following post, which you must read through to that wonderful last line.

I think the first question is to ask administrators is why they are limiting the number of checkouts? Often the answer is tied to fear of losses. Couple of ways to counter this.  First quote research about use of a collection: if a collection is really used it will have around a 10% loss every year.  If that doesn’t work, and it often doesn’t, ask for a trial run.  Keep loss figures with limits and figures without limits. But also make clear to the students what is at stake in the test. If they want to be able to take out more books, they will have to show that they can be responsible. Works well to be straight with them. And my experience is there is no difference in losses if they can take out 10 books or two books.

If the problems are that perhaps there aren’t enough of the “right” books, such as enough for reports on spiders or some such, then a couple of options: First, augment collection with books from Public Library (if your library rules allow this) and make use (if possible and not a district-wide assignment) of ILL among campuses in respective district. If everyone is studying same thing at same time, perhaps there is some lee-way.  Probably not in chronological reports on topics with the Civil War, but maybe in some science areas.  Perhaps limited or overnight checkout for high demand items during the time that they are in such high demand and when demand eases then put back to regular check out periods.  

I’d augment any discussion with the fact that children can’t read if they don’t have the materials they need. If they are reading for pleasure, there may be times in the day when they want to read a few pages out of a joke book, other times when they want to read the hot series book that their friends are reading, other times when something in class may spark a brief interest in a topic, other times when they want to know about a particular interest or hobby, and . . . Well you get the point. But, the reality is that any book sitting on a shelf is doing not one bit of good for anyone — except possibly the silverfish aficionados.

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