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Dear LM-Netters,
I posted a question in early August about how much circulation it is
reasonable to expect given the limitations of staffing.  I am now trying to
figure out why we seem to be circulating fewer books than other schools with
similar staffing, yet my assistant feels she is so busy and exhausted from
the demands of circulation.  In the replies I received, staff/student ratios
varied from 1/500 to 1/750 and circulation was limited to about 3-4
books/week on the average.  The highest circulation per staff was 3200 books
per week, the lowest about 750 per week.  We seem to be at the low end of
the scale.  I am having a hard time getting my assistant to agree to higher
circulation, she thinks she is busy enough handling all the classes that
circulate each day (9 or 10), the 100-250 books that are returned each day,
the overdues print outs, processing, and filling teacher requests, etc.  I
tend to agree that she seems to work very hard, but I think our students
need to have more liberal borrowing policies.  Our daily backup shows total
books handled and I have to purge it when it gets over 1200 or so books.
When I reduce to just books "out" it is usually 800-900.  I figure we check
in/out on the average 160-200 books a day to students (teachers are not on
the same system and have no restrictions except to return all items when
finished--shelving for teachers is variable from nothing to literally
hundreds of books at report card time.) Maybe the most important variable is
just the sheer numbers of students and teachers that puts us over the edge
and prevents us from getting more books to each of those students!
Because the replies I received varied so much in the size and staffing, it
was most interesting to note the circulation policies varied less so.  A
telescoping policy from 1 book a week for Kindergarden and 1st to unlimited,
or as needed, or at least 3 or 4 at fourth and fifth was most common.  The
most liberal policy was from Bookheart, whose response I seem to have lost.
The other responses follow.  This is my first HIT and I'm not sure if it is
too long.  LM-Net is such a great opportunity...like a continuing library
conference with a wealth of practitioners!

I am in a K-5 school (about 400 students), with a library aide 1/2
day per week (Tues. aft.) and about 5-10 hours of adult volunteers helping
with check-out and shelving per week.  Kindergartners and 1st semester 1st
graders take one book which they may return any time to exchange, but in
reality, most just wait until their usual day.  Second graders generally
have 2, 3rd graders - 3, 4th and 5th graders usually may have whatever they
need as long as they are responsible about frequent returns.  That has been
a problem for some kids, so I'm going to limit them to 3 or 4 this year, I
think.  During second semester the computer daily backup showed as many as
1400 books out.  I did almost no shelving myself - it was done primarily by
the volunteers.  Teachers, of which there are about 25, including special
areas, etc., usually had books and AV material out, too.  Some just a few
at a time, some as many as 100 or so.  I really don't worry about those
returning in any particular time - they are in classrooms where they are
being read by students.  My inventory was about 9000 volumes last year; I
did a major weeding at the end of the year, so it is around 7500 now.  I
don't know how this compares to your situation; it sounds like you are in a
much bigger school (65 staff). The problem may be running that many people
through that takes so long.  Perhaps you can post a hit; it could be
interesting to see how different people handle this.  Thanks.

Bettie Fisher   fisherb@dexter.k12.mi.us

I am the librarian at two elem sites - one at 45% and the other at
50% ( yes, you are right - that is NOT 100%). I have a full time aide at
each site.  One site has about 750 students; the other 550. The larger site
is in a well-to do area and we have at least one volunteer for several hours
each day.  The smaller site is in a working-class area and we have three
volunteers per week. My check out policy is one book at a time for K and 1st
grade.  Like your policy, if they return it before the due date, they may
check out another.  I do not limit the amount of exchanges they make unless
it is so noticable that we think they aren't reading the books, but are just
Everyone else may have three items at a time with unlimited exchange.  I
don't see how this can be too much work if you are computerized. Both my
sites average around 3200 student circulation per week. (The smaller site
having a really strong reading-pusher staff!). When you say 800 out per day
- do you mean that as literal circulation or that that is how many are out
overall?  I don't know if I am being clear either, but if I check on my
circ. stats it usually tells me I have anywhere between 4500 to 6000 items
checked out (everything has different due dates, plus the staff materials
are included in that).

Jamie Boston <jamieb@wheel.dcn.davis.ca.us>

A little background on me & my school first: 650 students in grades Early
Childhood through 4th, about 35 professional teachers, I'm full-time as
is my aide. No volunteers, rarely student helpers from 4th.
EC & pre-K do not take books home, & are limited to one each week.
Kinder through 2nd do take books home--1 each week (except occassionally
the GT 2nd graders are allowed another book for research)
3rd/4th -- take 1 or 2 books home each week. HOWEVER--we have trained
them to check out their own books on our circ system. We started last
year, had no problems training them, or with them losing their checkout
cards. They really got a kick out of it, & the students that caught on
quickly helped their classmates. I never heard of anyone trying to check
out books under someone else's name, & at the end of the year we had no
more lost books than usual. We will continue this procedure in the coming
We do try to "insist" that teachers return all students' books by 8:30 on
the day they bring their class to check out. Most of my teahers are used
to this routine by now & understands it makes the LMC run more
efficiently. New teachers are nicely "reminded" several times, & they
make an effort to comply also. So far I've only had one teacher who
refuses to do this in the 6 years I've been there. It makes it easier for
my aide to do a "batch check-in" & get the books sorted & on carts before
we start the day. This time (8--8:30) is blocked out every morning on my
flex schedule as "check-in time". Student helpers usually fight for the
chance to collect classroom books & bring to the LMC on "their" morning.
Hope this all makes sense to you. It makes our workload more manageable.

Deborah Marie Collier <collie@tenet.edu>

  I never really thought about limiting circulation based on
staff -- it doesn't seem very fair to the patrons, though, as it's not
their fault!  We let kids in PreK through 2nd grade have one book out at a
time, and 3rd through 5th can have 2.  Our faculty is not limited at all.
(We have about 750 kids and 50+ faculty, plus aides and interns and such.
We also have open scheduling, so some kids come every day to exchange
It is hard to keep up with all the shelving, but we just do it as fast as
we can.  We get kids to help with easy (even 2nd graders are good at this),
fiction, and biography -- they seem to love helping, and are always asking
if we have some books to be put away.  That leaves us free to tackle
non-fiction and AV.
By the way, kids check out their own books once they are in 2nd grade; our
automated system "beeps" loudly if they have overdues or encounter other
odd conditions, and then they just come to get us.
Hope this is a help!

Gail Faughn, Media Specialist   faughng@freenet.tlh.fl.us (Gail Faughn)

We circulate 11,000 to 12,000 annually in our preK-5 (approx. 250 students)
with a half time LMS and halftime aide (who is the SLOWEST. )  I don't think
we are maxed out on circ. yet by any means.  I plan to work very hard on
increasing circ again this year with open checkout times daily.  We limit
preK to 1, K to 2, and then 3 from then on (per week with double that can be
out at a time).

acoelke@peoples.net (Anne C Oelke)

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