Eliminating Book Checkout from Lessons

For the past 10 weeks I’ve been stating aloud my plan to eliminate book checkout from my fixed lesson classes next year. At first it started out as an uncertain idea–can I really do this? As I said it aloud more and more I became more certain that this is a real plan for me this fall.

I’m not advocating that this is a great idea for everyone. However, there are a few reasons I think this will work for my students.


  • I see each class during a fixed time period (as part of the coverage for teacher planning time) twelve times a year. If I plan 5 minutes for transitions and attendance and 20 minutes for checkout that leaves a total of 240-300 minutes of fixed-schedule instructional time for the year. Just five hours or less!


  • We have a really strong open checkout routine. Most teachers send students to the library in a daily or weekly rotation. I see many students every day in the library. Many times, I dismiss students for checkout at the end of a lesson and 90% of them have already checked out books for the day, but a few still need the time. Last year our 720 students circulated 63,000 books. The year before we circulated 73,000 with 865 students.
  • Only a few teachers rely on these 12 fixed classes for their regular checkout time (again, only TWELVE times a year!). This might be motivation to establish a regular checkout routine in their classrooms so that students come to the library at least every week. I would really like to see K-2 students daily, and 3-5 students as they need books (1-3 times a week).
  • I’m losing my instructional integrity. Yes, I can teach a quality lesson in 20-25 minutes. However, there are many times when I would like to teach a quality lesson in 35 minutes or 45 minutes. Limiting instruction to only 20 minute lessons does a disservice to my students. I think I can dig a bit deeper into literature, inquiry, resources, and more if I get back the 20 minutes of instruction I’ve been devoting to book checkout.

My Plan

  • Educate teachers about the new plan.
  • Support teachers who want to establish a stronger book circulation routine.
  • Go for it!

I think students will be most disappointed in the elimination of regular library centers time. I usually did that during book checkout. I’m working on a plan to incorporate centers in other ways in the library.

August 7, 2016
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  • Reply Karin Hallett

    I absolutely get it! I see my K-5 kids for 40 minutes weekly on a fixed schedule. Last year, I convinced my 4th and 5th grade teachers to send their students to the regularly scheduled classes PLUS an additional 20 to 30 minutes for just check out time per week. These short class periods do not allow enough quality teaching and learning time nor quality checkout time where students can browse and read and talk books to each other. I am hoping to convince our 3rd grade teacher to give this a try this year as well.
    One question, in your post you mentioned centers, how do you use them? Do they have curricular connections or are they options for students to “tinker” once they have checked out books? I’ve read so much about centers, but I am a bit hesitant to start.
    Best regards, Karin

    August 7, 2016 at 1:39 pm
    • Reply Carolyn


      My centers are mostly the ‘tinker’ kind that you describe. They are alternative activities students can do during the checkout time. I love it when students read instead, but I think independent reading should incorporate monitoring strategies so I don’t enforce a quiet reading environment.

      August 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

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