Friday, March 23, 2012

My #HoldShelf - A Window Into What Kids Really Want

Maintaining a "hold shelf" for patron reserves is hardly innovative practice.   However, a recent tweet by library rockstar, John Schumacher, has made me pay closer attention to this obligatory library feature.   Taking a page from the gospel according to Travis Jonker, (the braniac behind the blog 100 Scope Notes), who maintains that "the library hold shelf is one of the best ways to know what kids are actually lining up to read," both bloggers have been encouraging librarians from around the world to share their hold shelves.  I think this is a lovely little idea that is, frankly, just sprinkled with genius.  After all, what a great way to see what books other kids are excited about!

I teach middle school and my hold shelf certainly reflects that fact.

Featured prominently among the ever growing collection of gators (our mascot) that crowds my circulation desk, my hold shelf is currently brimming with series fiction - The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, (both by Collins) The Whisper (by Clayton), Gone (by Grant), Vietnam Book 1 (by Lynch)  and Wonder (by Palacio).
Please ignore the mess behind my hold shelf.  Clearly, I do! 

To be honest, though, my hold shelf hasn't always looked like this.  In fact, until Mr. Schu threw down the share gauntlet, my hold shelf was tucked away behind the desk where kids couldn't get to it (without permission).  But this little challenge made me rethink its location and purpose.  After all, if the hold shelf is a great way for ME to see what other kids are reading, why not share that information with other kids, teachers and anyone else who meanders by?  So I moved it up front (it's right next to my circulation station) and added some cool signage.

But somehow this didn't seem like enough.  Checking out the books that are currently on the hold shelf made  me wonder what books were reserved most.  A few clicks later, I had a report that told me which titles kids had placed on holf most during the month of February - and, I have to say, I was surprised by a couple of the titles! Now, I'm a big fan of sharing circulation data with kids and staff.  I've posted extensively on how I use my data wall to share this info and connect students and faculty to these numbers, so I usually have a pretty good handle on what's being checked out most.  But holds?  Well, that's a whole different story.   For example, I was floored when I saw that Jumped by Rita Williams Garcia and Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney were in the top five most requested titles in February as NEITHER books made the list of the top 25 most checked out books that I post each month.  Clearly, kids want these books, I just don't have enough copies to keep up with the demand! Oi!

Of course, I realize none of this is rocket science, and the three people who actually read this blog are probably shaking their heads in disgust, but this feels like a revelation to me.  So... thank you John and Travis for lifting my veil of ignorance!  I'm excited to use this info to help provide my students with the books they actually want!

Now. If YOU want to share some hold shelf love, here's what you do:

Before Tuesday, March 27th, take a photo of the hold shelf in your library.

Then share it by:
  1. Posting it to your blog and letting  Travis know in the comments.
  2. Emailing the photo to Travis at scopenotes at gmail dot com.
  3. Tweeting the photo using the hashtag #holdshelf.
Mr. Schu will be hosting the #holdshelf share-a-thon next month.  And, of course, I would LOVE to see your hold shelf photos as well, so if you're feeling generous, PLEASE post some links here too!***

But even if you're not keen on posting photos, take a closer look at what your kids are reserving.  I guarantee your hold shelf is worth a second look!

*** PS:  Spambots have forced me to start moderating comments on this blog. So... if your brilliance doesn't appear right away, don't be alarmed.  I shall unleash your wisdom upon the world soon enough. :) 


  1. Love your sign next to your holds! Such a great idea. I've posted a list the Top 10 books checked out for the month. But never thought to do it for the holds too.

  2. My kids are pretty active about putting books on hold. I'll have to take a picture of our shelf on Monday. I'm happy for them to use this service, but when I see 20 kids waiting for our multiple copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, I just think about how I need to keep them reading while they are waiting. So besides noticing what my kids are putting on hold, I try to steer them towards similar titles that don't get as much love: from Dork Diaries to Amelia's Notebook, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Journal of a Cardboard Genius, etc. There are a WHOLE lot of books that are still on the shelf!

  3. wish I could take a pic like that, but our holds are absolutely snapped up as soon as they become available they arent there long enough to even get a pic. Most days it is one or two. I reckon one might think we dont have many, but we do. and that hold list is a source of guilt, so much so that as soon as the hold is due, Im making inquiries into why it hasn't yet been returned. Our hold shelf is however pretty visible.

  4. Here is a picture of my hold shelf before school started on March 20. Like Cathy, most books don't stay on the cart very long before the student who requests it comes to grab it.

  5. Just an FYI: I took this on a Friday, after school, AFTER our book drops (which are located throughout the school) had been emptied - otherwise, my hold shelf would be empty too.

    1. I love the ideas I'm getting from your blog! Out of curiousity, what type of book drops do you have throughout the school? I would love to implement that here.

    2. Hi Aislynn,

      Our book drops are 3 large (about 4ft tall and 2ft x 2ft square) wooden boxes (with slots cut into the tops, which are attached by hinges on one side and padlocks on the other). They were made entirely by students in our shop/technology classes and then painted by kids. One is strategically placed at each grade level, and they are emptied once per day (at the end of the school day).

      Hope that helps!

  6. Have to say, I just LOVE practical ideas such as this. It may not seem like rocket science, but we are all so busy we sometimes forget that ideas like this can make a difference! Thank you! Can't wait to look at my shelf tomorrow!

  7. Yes, I echo Shannon's comment. Not only is it a great idea to have multiple drops, but your hold shelf 'makeover' is inspiring. Thanks! You are an inspiration.