Nancy Everhart shared this in Facebook yesterday and I think it is so cute and telling! Which brings to mind our overdue notices that are going out Monday. Some may say we are slackers, as we only send them out quarterly, somewhere near midterm. We will catch immortal sin and grief from our patrons coming Monday when these offensive yellow slips go out. Most of the grief will be because students misread the information on the notice. Destiny’s notices are easily misinterpreted. We do have safety nets and policies in place to help kids with fines though. And more often than not, those funds we do collect are used on our students. Examples follow:
- Safety Net: When our little snow or ice affects our schedule, we mark the library calendar “closed” in circulation so students do not get charged for late books on a day the library was not physically open. On late arrival days, just the same we mark the calendar closed. Yes we are physically open on late arrival days and can circulate books in and out, but the system thinks we are closed so books circulating are not impacted by that date. Student do not accrue fines on those dates if their book is due. It helps as students may not be able to turn in their book, as their remaining schedule that day doesn’t bring them near the library. The system also automatically adds a “day of grace” which means they have two days to get it back to us before fines are added. This helps the students.
- Safety Net: Students who come to talk to us about their late books usually get some kind of waiver or reduced fine amount. It’s quite easy to look a student in the face, listen to their quandary, and reduce or clear fines. It’s very easy to ignore those who just knowingly drop a late book in the box and walk away. All of this is explained in library orientation.
- Fine Money Funds: All of our fine money in funneled right back into the library. The vast majority of this funding helps us offer library programming. Fine/fee money buys our book club titles. That funding source also allows us to purchase and provide lunch to the book club members. This way we can have an active library book club that doesn’t require students to stay after school.
- Fine Money Funds: Sometime during early to mid March, our school budget has to be spent. Any funds remaining are zeroed out and added back to the general fund to be spent by someone higher than me, and not necessarily on or for library programming. Having this local account assures that we can purchase more books for the collection, particularly those that become available after March. We love being able to offer our students the newest in the series or the next ever so popular YA title.
- Fine Money Funds: We use that funding to offer prizes or treats that go with Teen Read Week, Poetry Month, and other library promotions and contests. I love the look on students faces when they learn they can choose a book as a prize. I also enjoy giving our “Cavalier Coupons” that students may use in the cafeteria or school coffee shop.
- Fine Money Funds: We used some of our money to purchase digital readers and ebooks when they first came out. This was a trial to see how they could be used, how hard it was to get books on and off, and if they could be applied in the school library loan model. Eventually we opted out of getting more, and now our readers are used in house and to model/demonstrate to students how to get checkout our ebooks from our system. So they are still being used. In a nutshell, the money allows us to explore programming too.
Other source funds: The library also sells the following at a low cost or no cost to raise small amounts of funds.
- Earbuds – We sell earbuds for $2.00 a pair. Our network settings have sound disabled on all student devices that log in to the network unless there is a speaker device attached. Many students walk around with their earbuds, but we have a steady stream of students who want to purchase their own pair. They are cheap, costing us $1.00 or so. We make a 100% profit by selling them for $2,00
- Flashdrives – We sell these at cost. we make no money from these, but it does keep students returning. We stock our school store which is in another part of the building with both flash drives and earbuds.
- Color printouts – Students can print all the black/white copies they need right from the library’s student laptops at no cost. We sell color copies from the desk at $0.25 per page. Every little bit helps.
I realize not everyone works in a situation where they can charge fines or use the same fund raiser tactics that we use. Everyone’s teaching context is different. But I want readers to know that as a school that does charge fines, we are good stewards with that limited source of funds. We make sure it is a total investment for the library programming.