I'm not a fan of being the bad guy, but one has to be in order to teach our students about being responsible. I haven't been as successful as I would like, but I have always managed to clear my list by the end of the school year. (Personally, I would LOVE not to have to charge fines, but with budget issues as they are, our library needs the money.)
Here's the catch about teaching responsibility: If a student loses a book, their parent pays for it. If a student has a late fee, their parent pays for it. It's been suggested that a proper payback would be for the student to work off their debt. I don't agree. There are many ways to solve this dilemma. (Of course there are very special situations, like if there are serious problems occurring in the student's family i.e. illness, divorce. Use your discretion. )
Here are some tips on how to collect fines and overdue books:
1. Maintain a sense of humor. Losing your grip will only stress you out. It is not worth it. What's the name of the book series? Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. Perhaps your signs could take on a message which is delivered using humor? Here are two I created; one uses humor and the other one is very basic and to the point:
Here is a sign which is too plain and will not get your students' attention:
2. Be tenacious. I follow students to their classrooms and I keep showing up day after day until they either return a book or settle their fine. When they see you are not going away, they remember. It has worked for me just about every time.
3. Offer an incentive.
Here's a cute take on the Monopoly card from the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library:
You could also try Food for Fines, where instead of cash, the student brings in cans of non-perishable food which can be donated to a local food bank.
Amnesty Coupons are also a good way to get students to settle their debt. Choose one day and see what happens.
Remember the show Deal or No Deal? (Repeats of the show are currently on GSN) I found this idea in the Google book Tips and Other Bright Ideas for Secondary School Libraries, Volume 4 by Kate Vande Brake :
4. Use operant conditioning.
Students need to understand that their behavior has a consequence. I have used class trips and the prom as an incentive for the collection of books. (See my poster Do You Owe Us a Book or Fine?above which explains.)
5. When all else fails, call the parent. Sometimes it is difficult to get in touch, but be persistent. The chance is pretty good that the parent did not know that their child had an overdue book or fine.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL THING YOU DO TO GET BOOKS & FINES FROM STUDENTS?
Please comment at the bottom of the post.
Now to de-stress. Here are some really funny cartoons about overdue books:
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?