Getting reluctant, alternative school students into the library is a challenge… This is not a disciplinary school; it is a school where students are behind or off track, and we help them get back on track. But, still, many don’t read, so how do they ever make the trek to the library?
We get students almost every week, so I asked the counselor; “when you check a student into our school, would you bring them by the library?” This way (1) they find out where the library is, (2) I introduce myself, (3) I find out if they like reading and if they don’t (4) I ask them to please give me a chance – just 5 minutes to tell them about some books. Usually they come back! Yes, they do and usually after 5 minutes they leave with a book and a promise to read at least 20 pages before they decide to like it or hate it. It is quite pushy, so what? Call me the pushy librarian. We have readers at this school now.
It is real strange that teachers forget to include the library and research or free reading into the curriculum. Well, maybe not so strange – they have so much to cover in so little time! I ask teachers to come to the library with their classes each 9 weeks, but if they can’t do that (4) times; I ask them to come in each semester (2) times. Sometimes they only get down to the library with their students for 10 or 15 minutes , but that is long enough to “sell” a few books. Someone will take a book or two!
In the halls, I see students who haven’t come by the library and go up to them, “Hi, I’m the librarian! I haven’t seen you in the library yet! When do you think you can come by and visit?” Usually that very day the student comes in!
You may say, “Sure, that’s easy for you to do, you have a small school.” Even when I had 2 campuses and 3200 students, I did that. It always gets students in the library because they see that someone cares about them and notices them.
The main way that I have such a large book check out is because I ready Young Adult books through the school year (summers are for adult books). I book talk like crazy! If there is a book I haven’t read, I ask the student to come back and tell me about it. They do that especially if they loved the book and then I tell the next student, “Oh, a girl just read this and loved it! She said I had to read it, so you might want to try it.” Simple? Yep, and they take the book!
Really, to “sell” the books and the library to teachers and students, you HAVE to get out there and advertise!