Friday, August 15, 2008

Student self-checkout

Lucy and Ethel believe strongly in letting students take ownership of their library experience. Once I got Ethel as my full time assistant, we started letting the students scan their own books. I know some of you do this, and do this at an even more advanced level than we do (more on that later). Picture Lucy, or Ethel, behind the desk. Student comes up, gives us their number. We type it in our Follett Circ Plus. Student then scans book (or books). We hit print for the receipt. We type in any passwords necessary for any overrides (like if the book is on hold, and we are letting it go, etc.). The students really like this--especially if they are in a large group. Believe it or not, when we get a whole class in to check out, it is faster if they scan the books themselves. Now, we'd love to have comments from some of you who take this to a higher level--having students type in their own numbers and scan, etc. How is that set up in your libraries? We are switching to Destiny by late spring (wish us luck), and wonder if this offers us even more possibilities here. Let us know your thoughts in our comments section!


  1. Update on students scanning books. We have now brought a USB Mini Number Pad, (around $20.00 at Office Max) that the students type their own library number in for check-outs. We then confirm that they really are “Little Ricky” and then they scan their books. I, Ethel wanted to look into a digital USB finger print reader (around $50.00), but Lucy said “let’s take baby steps”. The self check-out with a finger print reader would be on a voluntary basis, for students wanting to participate. If anyone is using this technology, please add comment to this blog.

  2. The kids at my (elem.) library do self check-out. They find their barcode in my book of barcodes, scan it, then scan their books. They also scan in their books 1st if they've returned them. 3rd-5th do complete self check-out, and k-2 do it with the help of their teachers if we're not around to help.
    This frees me up to teach classes and since my assistant is only part-time and we circulate about 7000 books a month, it frees her to work on the constant shelving.
    There are sometimes errors, but far fewer than you'd think.

  3. Adrienne,
    Thanks for your comment! We are so excited when we get a comment--it lets us know we have a least one reader!
    You have really figured out a great system at your school. I have worked at all levels, elementary, middle, and high school, and a think that elementary students are even more careful than other levels with shelving and checkout!

  4. My elementary students also do self check-in and out. To help monitor what's going on when we're not sitting at the desk, we put in some fun sounds (car brakes). WARNING: You can have waaaay too much fun with this one (Grinch, Santa, Houston we have a problem, I wouldn't do that if I were you, etc.) One of my friends even records herself saying such things.

    But seriously, in Destiny it is possible to print out student ID cards with name, picture, barcode, and barcode number. This might appeal to your high schoolers.

  5. That is a great idea--our students, for the first time this year, are soon to be required to be wearing their picture ID at all times, and it will have their barcode, so they can either type in their number on the keypad, or scan their barcode on their ID!

    We do sounds too--we use Homer's DUH for some things. I need to change it--it is wearing out it's welcome. Your suggestions sound very good!

  6. I'm in a primary school that just got Destiny. We printed out the kids' library cards -- with barcode -- and the kids scan their library card first, then their own books. I'm dying to try a thumbprint reader (what model were you looking at?), but just haven't gotten around to getting one and playing with it.

    I do find that my assistant librarian and I have to be sitting there to make sure the kids scan their library barcode FIRST -- otherwise they can inadvertently be checking out books to the previous patron.

    And, yes, we have changed our Destiny sounds, so when a book is successfully checked out it sounds like a fairy harp, and when there's a problem, a car horn honks twice.

    Self-checkout is definitely the way to go. The kids love it.

    1. Hi Katie! Have you gotten around to using a thumbprint scanner? How did that work out?

  7. I am so excited to find this website! I job-share with another media specialist and we are seriously looking into student self-checkout. This has given us some great ideas.

    Since many of these posts are over a year old, I would love to hear an update of how everything is going. Adrienne, I'm VERY curious about how you get such a high circulation each month. What is your school population? My main problem is that classroom teachers are so pressed for time, they don't allow media time in their schedule unless I constantly remind them.

  8. Amy, we are glad you found us! We are still doing tastings--we are presenting an Exploratorium at AASL. We still have students check out their own books (with a little help for us). But our circulation is down--we are working on it. Lucy and I will keep trying!