Rant two: student ID’s. See rant 1 here.
(Fictitious letter, all names and locations are anonymous.)
Dear School Library Professional Guru,
My colleagues and I don’t agree on the requirement of student ID’s to check out books from our high school library. Can you guide me in how to handle this situation? I want to give you as much background information about our situation as possible to help you make a recommendation that will work. Thanks for taking time to process all this:
Background Info 1:
The school handbook has a sentence that reads something to the effect that all students must have their student ID on their person at all times while in school. Of course I’m sure you are reading between the lines, and have already deduced they do not have to physically have it visible like on a lanyard or anything like that. It is a large rural school of 2600 students.
Background Info 2:
Those who work in smaller schools generally find it easy to learn most of the students’ names if not by the end of the first nine weeks, then by the semester break. But in a school with 2600 students, learning every students’ name just doesn’t happen. The ones that are learned are the regulars who visit frequently.
Background Info 3:
With new admin in place this year, there is learning of how a high school library is different from the known, experienced middle school library. Positives have been noted, like the numbers every month in our reports, which have also been first hand observed. It is believed by many that our library centrally located is a great spot to hangout before and after school, as well as lunchtime. The library should continue being a welcoming place, and all involved have been encouraged to preserve the welcoming atmosphere. The directive, either implied or shared in varying ways, is that the staff should: Do what it takes to preserve our welcoming atmosphere; Tone down scene stirring confrontations, and try to work with kids who are sometimes making less than optimal choices; Avoid a scene if possible.
Background Info 4:
Since the school is so large and students are difficult to identify, the library policy to check out books is that each student MUST present their student ID to be scanned into the circulation system for checking out library books. Many students are turned away simply because they forget to carry the student ID around. Some even confess they never got the free one offered at registration before school began.
Dilemma for the library:
Should the students be turned away just because they do not have the library card? Three adults work to meet the needs of students. Two say yes–demand the card. One says no, just simply look them up. The catalog allows for searching by name, and most students have a small picture ID loaded from the school information system. The circulation desk also has access to the student information system where a larger, more current picture can be obtained. But this takes time to verify the identity of students. A key to having three adults work in a library situation is to present a consistent, agreed upon program. By not being on board with procedures, etc, the message sent to students is that one can just shop around form adult to adult to get what they want. We desire to provide a consistent front. My dilemma is that I do not want to turn kids away for something as simple as not having an ID. How can I make my colleagues see that it is not a way to encourage usage of library resources if we are firm and strict with the ID rule?
“Looking for answers”
Dear “Looking for answers,”
Here is my opinion/my take on this dilemma.
We cannot afford to turn kids away just because they do not have their ID. If the means to verify identity is at the fingertips, use it. Turning kids off is an endangerment to all three working positions in the library. The job is to serve kids, and just maybe a byproduct will be something like students who are information literate, responsible, and generally like the library atmosphere. It’s too risky to enforce the Student ID rule. Use the resources available and just go with the flow–its called job security and job preservation.
The danger here is that kids will stop coming to the library. Having policies and procedures is fine, but being too rigid and strict runs the risk of losing patrons. You share that your new principal is impressed with the numbers submitted in monthly reports. The economic climate is ripe for schools considering “reduction in force.” If these numbers begin to tumble, and turning kids away without an ID could directly impact those numbers, it may be enough evidence to justify cutting one, two or all three positions in your library.
This calls for damage control. Ask your coworkers to sit together and discuss the issue. Find a way to compromise on the policy of students needing an ID to check out books. Suggest some alternatives, like allowing students to show a driver’s license if they have one, or having a student recite all or part of their ID number if it has been memorized.
Find ways to REWARD the students who DO use their student ID at checkout. Sometimes a mere Hershey’s chocolate kiss or star mint is incentive enough to encourage students who are checking out books to produce that required ID. Change this up too, and alternate the reward. Mechanical pencils are valued by students, as are stickers and special bookmarks. Find a way to reward those who follow the requested procedures. Nothing breeds wanting to follow rules like incentives and rewards. A bonus is that maybe more students will want to check out books. How can that be a bad thing?
Please let me know what you decide. Good luck with convincing your coworkers to see your way.
Your helpful “School Library Professional Guru”