Checkout Policies — Yea or Nay?

As a child, my mom always set a limit on how many books my brothers and I were allowed to check out at a time — three. We would return every week and get three new books and I was content with that system.

Once I could start going to the library independently I still found myself setting the three book limit on myself. I never questioned it and was happy to return a week later or even sooner if I finished reading, which was often the case.

Fast forward to my first year as a librarian in a public library. Suddenly that three book limit went out the window. I was checking out any book that looked remotely interesting because well, I could! My nightstand started to resemble a Jenga game with books teetering out of every surface. I would often read at least a book or more a week, so I felt my ever-growing pile was justified.

In my current role as a solo elementary school librarian I find myself waxing and waning — Should there be a check out limit?

The logical, librarian side of me thinks…

Of course! I don’t want to be shelving all day because every third grader checked out 10 books each.

I wouldn’t have anything left on the shelves if students could check out as much as they wanted!

They will just lose those books!

Whereas, the book-lover side of me thinks…

Why yes! You may check out the entire Harry Potter series to read over winter break because that sounds like a delightful plan!

It’s an awful feeling when you finish a book and have nothing to read after it. I can’t put a kid through that!

How can I say ‘no’ to a student who wants to read?!

The logical, librarian side of me won and I do in fact have checkout policies in place. When students come to the library with their class they know how many books they are allowed to check out and they are content. It makes for a smooth check out and students know what to expect. However, I still find myself wanting to say to some of my students — You’ll be done with these two books by Saturday afternoon. Go ahead, check out two more.

What are your checkout policies? Do you listen to the logical librarian half of your brain or do you tend to side more with your book-loving side?

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