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30 Minutes in the Library? Seriously?

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Dear Dr. Laura,

OMGoodness! I only have 30 minutes with my classes at my new school. I don't think I can get a read aloud, lesson and check out done in that time! Everything seems so rushed and I’m frustrated. Do you have any tips?


Frustrated Librarian

Hello, Frustrated Librarian!

It sounds like your schedule has changed from what you typically have. Based on what you described I’m thinking you are in an elementary library. You’ll need to rethink your strategy. You may not be able to fit everything in like you did before. So, let’s evaluate what’s most important to you.

I know book circulation must be important to you. So, checkout has to take priority UNLESS your schedule flexible enough to allow students to come at another time.

1. I have seen where librarians schedule a 15 minute checkout time during reading block time. Teachers bring their students in during reading and they only checkout their books and go back to class with the teacher.

2. I have also seen where the librarian had an aide or set up a self-checkout station and students could come and check books in and out at any time.

3. I have also seen where a librarian set up 15 minute lesson times that the teacher scheduled and brought the students back to the library as a part of classtime- for their library lesson.

If you are fortunate to have a little flexibility in your schedule, then you can schedule your 30 minutes to accommodate what you need with checkout + lessons or story time. But, I imagine that is not the case for you.

So, let’s picture your time with the kiddos in blocks of time. Let’s play with the scenario below:

First 2 Minutes:

Entrance routine. Students enter the library and place their books on the return cart or self-scan to check in their books and place them on the return cart. They head straight to the floor/rug to join you. Honestly, a responsible student could be there leading them in rhymes/poems/chants you have displayed on the screen or tripod type of stand.

Next 15 Minutes:

Rotate your weekly plan. Decide if you will do a story time or lesson this week. Then next week do the other thing. Ex. Week 1 and 3 Story Time, Week 2 and 4 Library Lesson

Last 13 Minutes:

Priority. Student check out. I would think about projecting a timer with a 10 minute countdown. When it buzzes students have a 3 minute warning to get their books checked out. It’ll take some time for them to adjust to the quicker timing, but they are capable. Students can line up at the door and read their book while they are waiting for the teacher.

Hang in there. You’ll find a smooth flow that will work for you! Meanwhile let me encourage you to listen to my podcast and get ideas from other veteran librarians.

Dr. Laura

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