Reasons why I am opening the library and checking out books over the summer

This year I decided to check out books to students over the summer. "You'll never get 'em back!" says the wicked witch in my head. It reminds me of the "You'll shoot your eye out! You'll shoot your eye out!" sass from Ralphie's teacher in A Christmas Story. I thought it was a revolutionary idea, because all I ever heard was, "You'll never get the books back." Well, it's NOT a revolutionary idea and lots of great librarians do it. I posted a query to the SCASL list-serv asking, "Do you check out books over the summer?" and one person replied "as many as they want. . " that's when I knew I had to do it. Here are some other reasons:

1. The only students who are going to check out books are the ones who love to read, those are my regular customers and they are pretty reliable about returning their books to the library. We need to make more students who love to read. But for me right now, the number of students interested in summer book check out is not overwhelming.

2. Which is more important? Getting all the books back or kids reading over the summer? Students reading over the summer is much more important than the potential loss of a few library books.

3. I used it as an incentive for students to clear their library account and return all of their books on or before the last week of school. Students could not check out books for the summer unless they had no check outs or overdue books or fines on their library account.

4. Checking out books over the summer helps build a culture of reading.

5. I decided to allow only the 6th and 7th graders to check out books because they will be returning to the school next year. I did check out a few books to 8th graders who asked about checking out books and told them to return the books to the High School library or our public library.

All in all this has been a positive experience that I will almost certainly repeat next year. I started a summer book club with four books to choose from and scheduled meetings on the two dates I opened the library.
Even if we don't get many people, this is a start. I will be able to kick the year off by continuing the summer book club into the first two weeks of school.

Check out the SMS Library Blog to see what we read and some of the activities we tried.