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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. :)


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