As I am putting together my year end collection analysis I am contemplating changing my books per student ratio. In this day and age I feel the old standard of 12:1 is too small to meet the changing reader needs. I have PreKIndergarten to Fourth grades and my students read from pre-primer to high school levels.
Now, I know I must weed a section each year as I inventory to meet the changing needs as well and I use my Follett collection analysis tool to help me in these areas. So, if I change the 12:1 ratio to something higher my collection would look worse. I feel good when I run the analysis because my collection by 1-2,000 each year. I purchase more but I am weeding the areas as I go so the average age has decreased as well.
So, the next question I have to ask myself is in regards to the ratio. How much should I increase the books to student ratio? I came upon this article published in 2009, http://www.slj.com/2009/04/research/slj-spending-survey-2009/#_ from the School Library Journal which indicated in a survey, librarians use a 27:1 ratio for elementary school. That is over twice the old standard! I am not sure I can justify that ratio and I am not certain my library could hold that number of books! I have begun genrifying the library’s fiction collection for students able to read novels. I have also begin leveling the picture book (easy) collection in order for students to find materials on their level (AR). So far, students and teachers are liking the changes but I do have a number of items I still need to review for relevancy.
I am thinking of upping my ratio to 20 per student. I think it is a much more acceptable number at this point in my collection development process. I am looking to implement more STEAM into my non-fiction collection as well as meet the school AR requirements. Some books do not have AR quizzes and that is fine with me. My main purpose is to provide reading material for my students and faculty that can build lifelong readers and meet the state mandated core curriculum.
Another item that has presented itself this upcoming year, my new assistant principal wishes to move to more project based learning in the school and utilizing more technology and less pencil paper. This is exciting to me to be able to implement ebooks and ereaders into my collection. We integrated 120 iPads into the school this past year for classroom use but nothing for the library. My goal is to obtain enough in the library to train my students on how to access online reading material to meet the new STEAM agenda. This allows me to integrate technology with literacy! I plan to get my kids online as much as possible this year to open their creative juices but I HAVE to have the technology to back it up!
I suppose I have to go back to my initial question, How many books are enough? I really don’t know. I think there may never be enough. I think the real question is how do we increase access to books, periodicals, references, etc? I can increase my collection by removing professional materials from the shelves and providing them in electronic format and opening up those shelves to student materials. I can remove out-dated materials and replace them with 21st Century Information Literacy based materials as well and try to provide more ebooks and other electronic material access through the public library and the state library.
I have a plan!