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.

Where’s Waldo in the Library?

RF_waldo_1This fall I purchased the Where’s Waldo? book series for my library. They had been in the collection in the past, but must have gone missing before my tenure. I have strong and fond memories of the Where’s Waldo? books and admit that I used to have his location memorized on almost every page.

Since their addition to the collection they have been in constant circulation as this classic hidden picture book character finds a new audience in a new generation. Waldo has definitely not lost his appeal!

I decided Waldo needed his own library center. I went surfing and found decent pictures of Waldo that I printed, laminated and cut out. I put together a collection of Waldo, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard, Wilma, and Woof as well as three of their lost objects: binoculars, a golden key and a scroll.

I hid the objects on our our bookshelves around the library. Contest entry forms ask students to look for Waldo and crew. When they find a character or object they write down a call number from the shelf where that item is located and then turn completed slips in to a large fish bowl.

So far the students are enjoying the challenge. The younger students are simply looking for Waldo and the older ones are completing the entry slips. I anticipate that by the end of the month many of the students in grades 3, 4 and 5 will have completed the contest. They’ll look for Waldo on their first few library visits and then complete the entry slips later in the month.

Shhh…. Don’t tell where he’s hiding!