Our Reading Lives

How Bookstagramming Returns Made me a Better Librarian

Book returns are a part of every librarian’s life. Some people might think that sorting through book returns is a dull, arduous task. It certainly can be time consuming, but it’s not dull. I propose that keeping a close eye on my book returns has made me a better librarian.

In the public library, opening the book drop could be interesting. In fact, it was often like sorting through a tiny room full of horror film props.

The weirdest thing we had stuffed through the book slot, you ask? A deer’s leg. Yes, a severed deer’s leg with the fur still on it.

Disgusting, sure, but think how awkward it must have been for that three-legged deer.

“Um, hi, I’d like to borrow this Bambi DVD and, well, this is going to sound weird but you wouldn’t have a leg back there by chance? Yes, I have photo ID.”

In a school library, I don’t have weird things delivered to me because I don’t have a book drop, just a counter.

When students return their books, I take a picture of them as they pile up. It’s easy and takes almost zero effort. It was initially just something to put on Instagram but it evolved into something much more beneficial.

Book returns

I soon had a record of what the students were borrowing on a daily basis. Sure, I can easily look these stats up using our cataloguing system, but this was more tangible. I now have more informed conversations about the students’ borrowing trends because the trends are being photographed and are fresh in my mind. It has made me better at doing the one thing that is most important: putting books into the hands of teenagers.

Plus, students can see what their friends are borrowing (This is very, very important) in real time by checking out the pictures on our social media pages. It also introduces them to new books that they choose to read based on the cover (Also very, very important).

book returns

“Hi, can I borrow that book you put on Instagram? It had a blue cover.” I get that sometimes, and I love it.

I want to spread this further and connect with other librarians around the world. What better way than to share our book returns?

Hence the hashtag #bookdroplife – It doesn’t matter if your book drop is like mine and just a counter. Or if you’ve got a giant room filled with piles of books that need sorting and you’ve only got thirty minutes to do it before you open because some jerk cut you off in traffic and you spilled lava hot coffee on your arms and were late to work. Let’s share what our patrons are borrowing so we can be better book pushers!

book returns