Usually, the difference between a library and a book store is the way one lends book for free and the other tends to put a dent in your wallet. For the past few months, however, the LRHS library has widened the gap even further by leaving a cartful of free books as the first thing students see when they walk inside.
In theory, there is nothing wrong with the books; in fact, all of them are in great condition, considering their age—yet no one has checked them out in the last five years or more.
The restoration of Sustained Silent Reading Mondays, as well as other literature-oriented projects, has played a large part in the LRHS Library changes of recent years.
Think of it as the classic chain effect: the more students in the library, the higher the circulation, and subsequently, the greater need for more books to accommodate the rise.
In fact, the rising number of students coming to the library is the primary motivation behind the books giveaway.
So, of course, the resulting increase in circulation is what ultimately prompted the LRHS library staff to make room for a fresh installment of books by letting go their less popular titles.
Actually, the additions are not a novel concept for the library. The incoming set of books will be the 3rd book order that the LRHS librarians have made in the 2009-2010 school year.
Even without this next order, the library will have already purchased approximately 600 books this year alone, each ranging from $15 to $25.
Clearly, LRHS is not feeling the pressures its nearby competitor.
“I don’t think the [Leesville Road Public] library has been open long enough to have made an impact here [LRHS library],” said Ms. Hardison, Leesville’s head librarian.
In the past, new libraries have proven to have a surprising effect on other libraries.
For example, in 2004 when Wake County first began scouting for the new location of the current Leesville Road Public Library, several proposals suggested shutting down the Duraleigh Road Library to save the county the expense of new materials.
Interestingly enough, 2004 was also the year that LRHS’ library last went under renovation. Much like the giveaway, the structural change was mainly prompted by a need to make more room for more books, as well as new computers.
Not surprisingly, computer accessibility has played its part in keeping the library busy. And with 90 students using their lunch passes every week, it’s hard to tell whether it’s the technology or the texts that hold the greater attraction.
“Some students prefer one to the other and then there are some that like to read graphic comics online,” said Hardison. “They’re still reading; it’s just a different kind of reading.”
But the reading range doesn’t stop there.
Since the start of Leesville’s ESL program three years ago, LRHS librarians have slowly made a habit of purchasing their more popular books in different languages, keeping French, Spanish, and even German-speaking students in tune with current literary trends.
In fact, as one of Leesville’s more popular reading trends, graphic novels (or comic books) were one of the first literary genres to merge with the library’s growing bilingual book collection.
“The librarians have been very supportive of our ESL program,” said Ms. George, the head of Leesville’s ESL department. “They’ve even go out of their way to purchase textbooks with that simpler to read, so that the students can read them more easily.”
Of course, checking out books does play its part in the library’s success. In fact, it’s the students who rack up the most fines often end up contributing the most to the library’s growth.
The library’s checkout system is also an example of the chain effect: if students miss their due dates, they face a $0.10 fine for every late day and, for the upperclassmen, failing to pay fines means missing out on a parking space or even, not receiving their diploma.
As for the underclassmen who let their fines pile up, eventually they will deal with the same consequences, and either way, when students finally do pay their fines, the money goes to straight to Quail Ridge Books, the library’s book source, to pay for new books that future students will enjoy in the ongoing circulation cycle.
And it is an ongoing cycle.
Even though the cutoff date for checkouts is May 25 and from then one, only overnight checkout are allowed, the librarians have experienced fewer dry spells in recent years, though the room for growth is always open.
“We like to help,” said Hardison. “We’re not here to just sit behind the desk and check out books. Sometimes, when we see a student who looks like they have no idea what they’re looking for, one of us (librarians) will go up to him or her and try to point them in a certain direction.”
Although the library will, unfortunately, be saying goodbye to its head librarian this year when Ms. Hardison plans retires and move to Ohio this summer, there’s no question that Leesville’s students couldn’t be in better hands. In fact, the only thing we have left to worry about is how the library will be able to keep up with yet another year of progress this coming fall.