Draconian policies save my supplies!

9 Apr

There is a little-known problem that happens (I would imagine) in many school libraries: office supply theft.  You know how it goes…

Innocent-looking student: May I borrow a pencil/textbook/calculator/stapler/tape?
Librarian: Of course!  Please return it when you’re finished.

3 days later…no returned supplies.  I don’t think it’s intentional, I think our students get caught up in their work, realize they’re late for class, and dash out.  With my stuff.

So, after scratching my head about how to stem the flow of equipment money wandering out, I decided the only way to resolve the problem was to make sure the student had motive to return to me.  You want a pair of headphones?  Or a calculator?  I want your ID.  I don’t care if it’s your student ID or a driver’s license, but something that tells me your name is staying with me.  This is because I can now bill you, if I must.

Pens?  Have one.  They’re 50 in a $2.00 box from OfficeMax, good luck getting one to write.  Oh, my nice pen?  It came from personal funds and I don’t lend it out.

I realize demanding ID is draconian, and that we could just check them out as circulating items.  We tried that, in fact, and all that happened was the students would drop out and we had an old address.  Goodbye, stapler or headphones.  It may be harsh, but if I take something you’ll miss, then the student is likely to view it more as a temporary trade than as “borrowing” from a place that can’t enforce its ownership after you leave.

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