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Library sees increase in circulation

Maris Cota and Haylee Leach Princeton High School has made adjustments to its library in an effort to avoid the common struggle of getting kids to read. Three years ago, the Princeton ISD library staff decided to genrefy the PISD libraries.

“Bookstores have been organized this way for years, so why shouldn’t our library be the same?” said district secondary librarian Tiffany Matlock. “As crazy as it may sound, we dumped the Dewey Decimal System.”

The library created a system that enables students to quickly locate a book they want to read.

“Educators and parents do not want students missing valuable class time because they have trouble finding a good book to read,” Ms. Matlock said. “We have the books sectioned into genres such as fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, etc., and now all the secondary schools have completely genrefied both fiction and nonfiction.”

According to Ms. Matlock, the library still needed to create student ownership of the library. 

“I decided to try something new at the high school, so I took 20 kids to Barnes and Noble,” she said. “I used one-third of my annual budget and divided it between each student. The kids were excited and moved swiftly through the store grabbing books, trying to make sure they chose books that other kids would like to read.”

Now the PHS library features a section by the entrance called “Student Picks.”

“The manager at Barnes & Noble said the energy of the kids that day was contagious,” Ms. Matlock said. “Other customers were laughing and having fun looking at different books, and I had an elderly couple come up to me and tell me that it was refreshing to see young people so excited about reading. Leaving Barnes & Noble that first trip, I knew this was going to work.”

Students stop at the “Student Picks” shelves first to look for a book before going into the rest of the library.

Ms. Matlock said these two moves have increased circulation.

“Before we genrefied and created student ownership in the library, our average circulation was a bit over 3,500 books a year at the high school,” she said. “Our students checked out about 65 percent fiction novels and 35 percent nonfiction novels.”

Library usage chart Since the library genrefied the collection and added student-selected books each year, the circulation increased to more than 6,300 books in 2018-2019, and the 2019-2020 school year has seen another 30 percent increase in circulation.

Currently, out of the more than 1,400 students, over 800 students currently have books checked out of the library, and 63 percent of those students have checked out different books on different days this school year.

“Our kids are reading, and they are reading good, high level books,” Ms. Matlock said. “We have built a community of readers at Princeton High School by including our students in choosing the books we have for them to check out and by providing an environment that helps them find a book that holds their interest.”