Friday, April 3, 2009

Good ideas for school libraries: 18. Holiday borrowing part I

I've mentioned holiday borrowing before, here and then here.  It's an idea I gratefully picked up from a colleague (she knows who she is!).  Our library loan system is set so that when a loan is transacted in the last two weeks of a term, it's not due back till the start of the next term.  With the normal loan period being a fortnight, this means that a loan may be a month.  OK.  Right now, this is just a fact.  But it's a fact you can play with to great effect.
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I would bet that if you went into any shopping centre right now, you'd find at least one shop (in reality, dozens) with something on special or on sale.  And do we look at these things?  Of course.
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So the standard setup of a loan system can become something exciting, something to be celebrated, a special opportunity, an Event With Spin: the goal being more loans, more books in the hands of kids, more reading, more of the good things that can come from this.
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We promoted Holiday Borrowing for the second and third terms of our four term year last year (if you're not from Australia, the school year here runs Jan-Dec, and is four terms long in the system in which I work).  It went well, and there was a clear increase in loans from the same terms the year before, when we hadn't done special promotions.

For the end of term one, our promotional strategy has several elements:
  • Display and Signage
  • Reading Role Models and Roll Call Quizzes
  • Double Borrowing Passes
  • Bookmarks
  • The Lucky Draw for Borrowers
If this sounds like a lot of work, it isn't impossible; it's worth doing, and there is fun to be had.
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Display and Signage
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Our two main display areas in the foyer/entrance area of the library are the bookcase they see coming in, and the tables they see going out (catch 'em both ways).  This time round (partly due to budget constraints and partly due to a wish to get some great items from the collection into the hands of kids who might not have spotted them yet) most of the display books are from the existing collection, mainly fiction.
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In the bookcase, the books are grouped by colour.  It's an instant contrast to how the books look on the ordinary shelves, has more graphic impact and is a way to draw kids' attention to books they might not otherwise have seen.  It is interesting to see how various colours go - black is probably the most popular, encompassing as it does genres like horror/fantasy/scifi/vampire romance and so forth.  I made a conscious decision to have these books spine out rather than face-out, to have lots of choice, and the bookshelf is certainly browsed and explored.
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The tables have books face-out.  On the stands I put out some of the box of Horrible Histories I bought a little while ago (20 books in a box for $100 - excellent value!).  I had to put the rest out within the day, as they were borrowed at high speed.  I then fished out more from our existing collection, plus some Horrible Science ones, and they are still going out at speed.  Face-up on the table is an assortment from our fiction collection, and throughout the day this needs topping up as readers find books to borrow.  This keeps it fresh; keeping it full is important too.  Somewhere in my recent reading the factoid stuck that a display under 70% full deters rather than attracts, so keeping it freshly filled with attractive books is a priority.
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Our display includes the noticeboard behind the borrowing desk, and the header above the bookcase.  Our work for these involved imagination, a little time and no money.  Last year I'd bought a calendar with an image a day of islands - tropical and not, exotic and rural, all sorts.  It had doublesided photos with the top section with the date easily trimmed (yes, I enjoyed it for the year and always thought it would have display potential).  We trimmed an assortment and made up a patchwork of images, adding a couple of slogans below.  Having scavenged a rectangular cardboard box (from an airconditioner component that was being installed at the school - the contractor was delighted that he didn't have to dispose of the box) that seemed the right size for the top of the bookcase (it was!) we covered this, too, in a patchwork of the photographs.  It looks good on the bookcase, and promotes the same message, colour and variety drawing the eye.  Thrifty recycling!
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just a box, but with potential.... see its new look in the first photo
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We left up the Harmony Day orange banners - being as they don't actually SAY Harmony Day (a conscious decision), they're rather lovely and we'll do something new for next term, enjoying them for now.
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Reading Role Models and Roll Call Quizzes
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Last year I did a couple of different quizzes in the daily information sheet read out in roll call in the last two weeks of term.  I use quizzes rather than announcements because they're more engaging.  I use the teachers as subjects because kids get intrigued by guessing, learning about their teachers.  (Also, schools are infested with teachers.  You noticed??!!).
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This time, I wanted to extend the conversations, and develop the idea of teachers as reading role models.  This made some teachers a bit cautious, until I explained that I didn't expect them to all be reading War and Peace: as reading role models they reflect the great variety and many opportunities of reading, whether it's ferry timetables, travel brochures, the daily paper, fishing magazines...or fiction or nonfiction of whatever kind.  I asked my colleagues to let me know three answers to: These holidays, Mr X is looking forward to reading... One answer to be true, the other two to be lies, as plausible or implausible as the teacher liked (me, I thought this had lovely scope for messing with students' heads in a cheerful way, but not everyone went with that).  From this information, each teacher got a green badge (note: you can buy badge holders at office supply stores, the ones I found at Officeworks were under $7 for 50 - the green is coloured cardboard, the font used is the one I use for Library things consistently) and I made up short three-question quizzes for roll call each day (answers the next day, which is also more engaging than having them available instantly).
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So how does this extend the conversations?  Students soon noticed the green badges, and asked the teachers about their reading, to find out the right answer so they'd have it ready for roll call.  This way, there were a lot more conversations beyond roll call: in the classroom, playground, corridor.  Every teacher wearing a badge (and not all have participated, but many did) is a reading role model, and can be seen as such by the kids (even if they don't approach them).
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I'll do another blog entry early next week to tell you about the bookmarks, passes and the draw.  So far, so good, though, and our borrowing figures are again measurably higher.  Hurrah!
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PS Put in a comment if you think you can guess what I'm reading these holidays...always more entertaining, of course, if you Justify Your Answer....!
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2 comments:

Karen and James said...

I love the badge idea! Tucking that one away for next term. Can't wait for your next post.

MissLibrarian said...

I have used a picture of yours in my blog www.butyouretooloudtobealibrarian.blogspot.com so just wanted to comment to let you know!

Thanks for the blogging!