LANSING – For years, fees for lost or damaged books have kept Lansing School District students from using school libraries.
These fees – which prevent students from checking additional books and may prevent them from taking exams – have been a concern for officials for years. Most recently, they were highlighted in a district audit that found that library fines hurt students of color disproportionately.
But from last week, they are past.
More:Black students are twice as likely to be suspended from the Lansing School District, the audit finds
The Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to waive more than $ 92,300 in library fees and abolish future fines that critics say unfairly discourages low-income literacy students. The Board of Directors voted immediately after reviewing the diversity audit.
“My job is to get kids to read, and I’d rather have kids read and come back and keep reading than be so worried about a book,” said Joy Currie, teacher librarian at Everett High School.
There are currently 5,437 books not accounted for in Lansing schools, according to Sarah Odneal, the district’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
A majority of the fines were imposed last year when the Lansing schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes 1,300 fees totaling $ 24,000 at Everett High School.
Students checked out a lot of books before leaving school to study externally, and many of the books never came back, Currie said.
She expected to see plenty of missing books when Lansing returned for personal learning this fall. In the early days of the pandemic, she dropped the box boundaries and encouraged students to take what they needed, knowing that they would be stuck at home for the foreseeable future.
Even in the absence of a pandemic, linking fees to book rentals makes what should be an encouraging activity, Currie said.
“It’s going to be awful,” she said. “Not just our library, but libraries in general.”
Librarians are increasingly considering positive reinforcement to return books, such as giving students a piece of candy if they check a book out and have no overdue time. Other librarians have enrolled students in lotteries to do the same.
School librarians need to be more empathetic, not “the scary guardian of books,” Currie said.
The district libraries of the metropolitan area announced similar measures in July, choosing to remove fees for overdue books. However, CADL still prohibits people from checking out books if they have more than 10 days late, and charges a replacement price and $ 5 fee for books that are more than 30 days late.
The books that students check out of school libraries are an important part of their education, and students should not fear the library, Currie said.
Without library fees, the district will adjust its budget to compensate for lost books, Currie said. Officials plan to meet after the spring break next week to start writing new rental policies.
“We have wildly talented teachers across the district, and our librarians want to center this work as a way to support our colleagues and families,” Odneal said. “We know from research that certified librarians directly impact the reading outcomes of a school positively, and the more time a text student can spend will take advantage of the teaching and learning that our teachers work so hard to provide.”
Contact Mark Johnson at 517-377-1026 or at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.