Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Whole New Ball Game

In order to get a handle on this school, this library, and these girls, I put together a survey and asked 340 students to provide answers to questions about their reading habits, library habits, research habits, etc. The results were very enlightening. Stunning, really. Shocking, in fact.

This is what I found:

  • 64% of students do not check out books from the school library

  • 72% use the library's web page "rarely" or "almost never"

  • the top 4 reasons for visiting the school library are: printing, photocopying, using a laptop, and working on homework

  • the 2 least common reasons for visiting the library are to check out recreational reading material and to ask the Librarian for help

  • only 38% of students say they use the library for their history classes, only 18% for science, only 6% for fine arts

  • 32% say there are no books in the library that they want to check out

  • 51% buy the books they want to read from a physical bookstore

  • 34% spend ZERO time each week reading for pleasure

  • students prefer to read romance, mystery, and realistic fiction

  • 61% do not use a public library

  • 85% turn to Google first when conducting any kind of academic research

So, there you have it. A VERY different scenario from my previous library setting, where tons of kids read avidly, almost no kids could purchase their own books (there is not a single bookstore in that part of South Central), and the Librarian was the first source of information for research.

I suppose I didn't really use my high school library for much either. It was pretty outdated, and I don't have any memory of the Librarian, so I don't think she was a very dynamic member of the school community. I got my books from my parents or the public library. Perhaps I don't need to lament the low circulation here. Perhaps I should focus my attentions on the research skills the girls are lacking and the need to get them college-ready in terms of seeking information. If course, I want to cry when I hear that so many of them spend no time at all reading for pleasure. That, to me, is sad. That I want to change.

Next up, surveying the teachers. I am very curious about those results.