There are many ways school libraries can encourage students to read more. One of the simplest is to allow students to borrow more. Here's how Whangarei Intermediate broke away from the borrowing restrictions, with stunning results.
Removing the barriers: no more borrowing limits
In 2006, Whangarei Intermediate School teacher librarian, Garth Rodda, did away with the library’s 2-book borrowing limit and increased the loan period from 2 to 3 weeks.
Catching up with Garth in 2014, the verdict is that it has been a resounding success. There’s no way he would choose to go back to a more restrictive model. The benefits have been clear and the drawbacks few, if any.
Influence on student borrowing patterns
Students find their own natural “borrowing level”, some having 3 or 4 books out at a time, and avid readers more – perhaps 8 or 9. Students have been more relaxed in their reading choices, more willing to take a chance on a book, and are reading more as a result.
The new approach allows avid readers to indulge their passion – racing through a series or particular author, reading armfuls of books a week.
For less confident readers, borrowing more books allows them to include a variety of formats and levels – picture books, graphic novels, non-fiction as well as fiction.
Positive reactions from teachers
Feedback from teachers has been positive about the more relaxed approach. With students having more books out, they’re sure to have a book at school available for Sustained Silent Reading.
Issue statistics escalating
Issue figures rose steeply when the limits were removed and have stayed at that higher level, steadily increasing. Garth reports no more books are lost than before, and there are no dramas with overdues. These are managed through the normal process of mentioning them at class visits each week, following up with notes if necessary.
Borrowing for holiday reading
Whangarei Intermediate School also encourages students to borrow books to read for pleasure over each school holiday, including the summer break. For the Year 8 students there is an arrangement with the libraries at the local high schools that students can return their summer reading Whangarei Intermediate books to the library at their new school. This has worked well, and provides an opportunity for the librarians at the secondary schools to welcome new students to the library.
Far more books are off the shelves and in students’ hands – and students are reading more. The verdict: this has been a resounding success on all counts, and has become Whangarei Intermediate’s continuing practice.