I have a sign in-sheet in our library now. That may not seem too strange, but for me it's a little like admitting our library is quiet (see previous post).
In my former job as a library coordinator, I remember (with a bit of a red face) that I encouraged our librarians to get rid of sign-in sheets. I thought that signing in might be a barrier for kids to come to the library. Maybe it would send the message that we don't really want them to come.
Our head of upper school recently suggested a sign-in sheet here. Our building is huge--over 300,000 square feet and four floors. Sometimes an administrator on the third floor is looking for someone. It's handy for them to call the library (we're on the first floor), and I can look at the sign in and see that the student was here last block, for example.
What I have realized is that signing in is not so much a barrier, but that it's simply a procedure. It only takes a minute, and our kids don't mind it. It hasn't cut down on library usage.
What I didn't expect is that it has a couple of benefits. First, it helps me learn kids' names, which is great. It's also good data to use for promoting the library.
As I count the names on the sign in at the end of each day, I realize that I have underestimated how many students use the library. Yesterday I was excited to see that 92 students came to the library on their own. With 400 students in upper school, 92 is great. That doesn't count the classes who came with a teacher, and it doesn't count the kids who forgot (or just didn't) sign in.
This morning an administrator remarked that the library must be pretty empty with the upcoming holidays. When I told him that 92 kids came on their own yesterday, he was amazed.
A sign-in sheet is a little thing, but it's nice to know that old dogs like me can still learn.