Book Lists and the Library

I used to work in a library and Summer was one of the times I hated the most. Summer meant children armed with a list of books teachers gave them to read over the vacation. It also meant parents who were not happy if the library couldn’t provide the books. Here’s how to help fulfill your child’s educational requirement without driving your librarians crazy.

1. Try to get the books early. One of the main reasons children haven’t had the chance to read the required books is, they don’t try to get them until right before school starts. Get a jump on that. Even if someone has beaten you to it, you can ask to be put on a waiting list for the book. When this happens in the beginning of the summer, the odds that you’ll get the book in plenty enough time for your child to read are much better than waiting until the end.

2. Read the list carefully. Occasionally, the books on the list are merely suggestions. A teacher may want a student to read a particular author, rather than one particular book. They may list a book as an example, but would be fine with any book by that author. Or, any book in a series. I’ve seen parents go through needless angst because the library didn’t have the exact book on the list, although we had other books that fit the requirement. Again, make sure that the teacher isn’t asking the children to read that particular book.

3. Remember, the library is not conspiring against you. We do not purposely keep books at branches that are out of the way of your home or work just to make you travel far. (And, if you come early, the chances are we can request that a book be sent from a another library so you can pick it up at your usual branch) We also have no control over when a patron is going to return the books they check out. It’s a sad thing, but people do frequently keep books out longer than they should.

4. Realize that no library can provide enough copies of any one book for every student. This is especially true for large classrooms or when various schools have the same reading list. If you live in a city big enough to have more than one library branch, the odds of having the books are greater but even then there may not be enough books to go around. Be prepared for the possibility that you may have to buy some of the books. This can also happen even if you were punctual in trying to get the books. If you’re on a waiting list for a book and time is running short, you may have to buy the book anyway. Don’t worry. The books teachers require students to read are almost always ones that stay in print and therefore are available at bookstores.

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