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Getting Your Books Back by the End of the Year

  • Tips for Librarians
  • Elementary
  • Middle School

The last few weeks of school are upon us, and while that is exciting and usually a fun time around your school’s building, it also means one big thing for you as a librarian: getting all of your books back where they belong.

At my previous school, there was a strict policy against library fines. While I see how this made circulation quick and easy, it often led to a lot of blocked accounts that I had to override and far too many missing books at the end of the school year. The consequence for not returning books? Students could not receive their report cards. This worked to an extent, but the last week of school I was lugging around a giant plastic bin and going to every classroom daily-sometimes twice daily-to fetch returns (while I should have been doing inventory.) I ended up with about 7 missing total books for which students had to pay full price, but the entire process felt unorganized and frankly, mildly annoying.

To avoid a situation like mine, I have provided some tips on how to get your books back on the shelves so you can enjoy your summer!

1) Be straightforward with parents: if you have access to parent emails, send a school-wide email on the importance of returned books and a kind, light reminder of consequences should those books not be returned. OR send one to your teachers that they can include in their weekly newsletter or blog.

2) Have students bring their printed overdue slips when they return their books, then file slips in the same place (We all scan hundreds of books within a day, it’s easy to forget which student turned in which overdue book: make it easy for yourself by using a basket or a folder for recently returned book slips)

3) Know when teacher deadlines are: for example, students at my school did Renaissance Accelerated Reader, and dates due were the last day of the 4th quarter. Knowing when teachers have similar dates will help you organize when books will come back to you and when.

4) Shelve all the books you have back already: students will always think they returned their books, but if you know what’s on the shelves you’ll be able to keep tabs on who has returned what.

5) Similarly, run reports daily on overdue books: take advantage of what your automation system/circulation computer program has to offer. Run reports based on date, grade, teacher, book type, etc. Those reports are there to help you! Use them often! My tip: those last few days, run them morning and afternoon before the bell rings!


Hope this helps! Now go enjoy your summer break!