Last year in our library we had a program that enabled students to sign in to the library by scanning their student ID. After a rocky start we were off and running and the program was a hit. The records were easy to retrieve and it was a fast system for the students. Unfortunately it was a grant based program and the grant was not renewed so this year we are back to handwritten sign in sheets. There are a few problems with this: 1. we can’t read the student signatures 2. It is very time consuming to track the library usage by counting students. 3. While we can separate students from lunch and study hall with two different sign in sheets it is difficult to keep track of which study hall students are coming from 4. It is time consuming for the students to check in. They have timed it and it takes 8 minutes in line during our busier periods.
I decided as an activity for this I would look for a Cool Tool for Library Sign In. I was specifically looking for something easy to use, where I could track student visits and where they came from (i.e. lunch, class, study hall), that would save time for the students signing in and the staff in keeping statistics. My google searches were very uneventful but I found an article on LM_Net about someone who used Google forms. After looking into that a bit it seemed like it would take a lot of back end maintenance work. Then I hit the jack pot with this post MAKING THE DATA VISIBLE: RAMPING UP LIBRARY REPORTING WITH LIBRARYTRAC . While it isn’t free it is definitely affordable.
I first contacted our technology department for both permission to try the tool,and assurance that if we love it they would work with us on funding. Once I got the green light from them I contacted Scott and he promptly set me up with a free trial.
At first I tried to set this up by brute force. You know….click and fill stuff in…that didn’t work so well and in the end the help file was what I needed. First I entered in our block schedule. Then populated a list of reasons for the visits. At this point I was glad I had worked with the technology department because I needed data files from them for both students and teachers. Once I got the files I spent quite a bit of time manipulating the data. Rather than having students type in the teachers name we wanted them to be able to select from a dropdown list. Scott showed me how I could name the fields what I wanted to in order to populate the list with all study hall teachers. This is where I am right now. Manipulating the spreadsheet for our teachers. I also realized that with only 8 days of school left we don’t have time to properly launch and test this program so it is going on the back burner until next year.