Saturday, July 4, 2009
Loan Statistics - what can they tell us?
Above is a graph of our last academic years library loans, (click on it to make it larger) the names of classes have been changed to protect the guilty!
When I saw these statistics in graph form there were actually no real surprises. Those classes who had the highest borrowing rates (and hopefully correlating reading rates) came to the library regularly at least once a week, and, the class teacher was involved in helping the students find books appropriate for the reading level and interests of the students. Reading was encouraged throughout the entire year and in most of the classes that had higher borrowing rates, a quiet free reading time was part of the class day.
Our arrangement is that all primary classes have a scheduled time to borrow - last year it was 40 minutes long, next year it will be 30 minutes due to timetabling changes. I am not scheduled to be with these classes as collaborative teaching takes priority, but if I am available, I do a book talk or help with selections. I try to be available for at least one session for each class every 3 weeks. Borrowing during class borrowing time was not compulsory. Some teachers used this extended 'literacy' time to continue reading a book to the class, some allowed the students to borrow and then to sit and read their books or other library reading matter. Other classes rushed in late, or had to leave in a rush to go somewhere else, their borrowing time was hurried and frantic. The library is also open at all break times through the day, and before and after school.
One teacher with lower borrowing rates justified their position by saying that she doesn't shove reading down the students throats - if you force something onto students they rebel. Not sure that actively encouraging reading is 'shoving'.
With the secondary students, we did not have a scheduled time for borrowing, but at the beginning of each English session one English teacher would have a quiet reading time and send students to the library to borrow if they had finished what they had been reading. This was the teacher of 7A, 7B and 8B. They also brought them to the library once a month as a class and introduced them to new authors, and gave me the opportunity to give short bursts on new titles that had arrived.
The English teacher of 7C, 7D and 8A did things a bit differently in that they relied on the students to get their own reading material in their own time, and they never came to the library for recreational reading - always for research, and I am not sure if they consistently had quiet reading time. The difference in borrowing rates (and possibly reading rates) is quite apparent between the secondary classes.
So what can I learn from all these numbers? Here are my observations :-
1. When the class teacher is actively involved in promoting reading and student reading choices it has a positive impact on borrowing levels.
2. If class teachers utilise the library borrowing time to promote and encourage reading rather than just rush in and rush out, borrowing rates indicate a greater interest in reading.
3. Time is needed for students to have quality borrowing time, selecting reading material should not be rushed.
4. The older students usually had lower borrowing rates as their books were longer in length and took longer to read.
5. It is imperative for secondary teachers to actively encourage reading and borrowing from the school library to maintain reading amongst this very busy, and historically researched, 'reading drop off' group. It does make a difference.
6. Scheduled quiet free reading also makes a huge difference in how much students borrow and hopefully read.
So, the next step is to create something that will share with the teachers about my observations on borrowing rates without being threatening or finger pointing. I am working on a draft of an essential agreement for both staff and students and I need to organise an orientation to the library sessions for the first days back at school where I will be able to discuss the role of reading, the library and the class room teacher's role. Maybe next year we will see a more even distribution of borrowing rates, and hopefully, increased reading rates.