Circulation services

Each school library will have a different approach to loaning resources depending on its size and the needs of its students and staff. The library selects loan periods, maximum number of loans and renewals, and other parameters to suit their school community. 

Automatic Library Management Systems

There are many benefits in consistently using the circulation module of a Library Management System (LMS) eg Symphony or Infiniti. They include:

  • Library staff can quickly identify who has an item on loan or where it is located in the library.
  • Accurate overdue loan reports can be run by library staff and followed-up.
  • Library staff can run reports that reflect borrowing numbers and trends. These reports can be used to:
    • Inform principals and teachers about the good work the library is doing.
    • Support requests for more library staff or a redevelopment. 
    • Justify the expenditure of library funds.
    • Quantify the impact of reading programs.
    • Respond to auditing requirements.

The circulation module is reliant on each person and each item having a unique identifier, usually a barcode. Each borrower will have a membership record in the LMS, and each item will have a catalogue record. A loan requires a borrower’s barcode to be matched with an item barcode.

Most automatic circulation systems can be configured to allow holds or reservations to be placed on items that are on loan. This means that when the item is returned, an alert prompts the operator to set it aside for a specific borrower. This is a useful method of managing items in high demand.

Manual systems

Some libraries use a manual system to track loans. For example a pocket can be placed in each resource to hold an index card which is used to match a loan with a borrower. Other libraries track loans via an iPad, which is used to take a photo of a book and a borrower’s card.

Overdue loans

Library guidelines regarding overdue student and staff loans should be developed in consultation with the principal and other school staff.

For example, lists of overdue student loans can be given to students or sent to the class teacher. Some schools generate invoices for unreturned items, some libraries impose borrowing restrictions, while others use a reward system to encourage loans to be returned on time.

Start of year processes

The start of the school year is a very busy time in the library. Library staff need to:

  • Manage borrower records:
    • Update returning student membership records, add new students, delete records for students who have left the school and update card folders or print scannable lists. Information for TALIS Network libraries can be found on the TALIS Support Website.
    • Update, add or delete staff records.
  • Follow-up on unreturned loans from the previous year.
  • Provide orientation sessions for new staff. Topics to cover include library resources and services, the library catalogue and the restricted circulation module (if applicable).
  • Provide orientation sessions for new students.
  • Organise and allocate the budget
  • Be ready to liaise with teaching staff regarding resources they need to support the curriculum.
  • Reflect on the previous year. Can you replicate or develop events, programs and services that worked well? Avoid replicating events, interactions or programs that didn’t work well.
  • Assess the physical space and ensure it is inviting, comfortable and welcoming.
  • Check all signage and handouts are up to date.