The librarian from Washington West Elementary and principal from St. Francis Borgia Grade School have contacted the Washington Public Library seeking extensions on material checkouts and securing library cards for students. 

The library board said more time is needed to make a decision. Members voted in favor of exploring the ideas with a separate committee.

“Having an institutional account is outside of our policy,” said Katie Dieckhaus, board president. “So we would have to change the policy, which would be a board decision.”

Interim Director Nelson Appell said the school librarians are seeking a four-week extension through an institutional account. Currently, the checkout window is two weeks.

Appell said the extension would make it easier on students to complete homework.

“Right now we don’t have any limitations on how many books they can take out,” said Dieckhaus. “The concern would be if a librarian would like to get all of our Harry Potter books and she’s going to keep them for six weeks. Then we don’t have any Harry Potter books for the rest of the public.”

Currently, a librarian with his or her own library card could check out those books for six weeks because they get two automatic renewals if needed.

A board member asked if a new policy was written could the renewal option be taken away so the books wouldn’t be checked out for 12 weeks or longer. 

“We could write it however we deem it necessary,” said Dieckhaus.

Board members expressed concern with teachers having access to all materials in a category.

“My concern is that if I’m teaching a unit on metals and my students want to come here and check out every book on metals,” said Diane Lick, board member, “then the teacher at Borgia comes up with the same unit the next week, she’s not going to have access to those.”

Dieckhaus noted the committee could discuss putting a limitation on how many books could be checked out at once.

The librarian at Washington West specifically asked for access to the library’s collection since the city library has some books that are not in the school’s collection.

“My worry is that we give them our collection, they lend it out to their students and then who knows if we get it back,” said Dieckhaus.

Appell noted the policy could be written to where the librarians would be responsible for their losses, if the book was not returned.

The board decided a proposal, along with more information, was needed before they could proceed with creating a committee to write a new policy. 

Library Cards

Washington High School librarians also have contacted the city library about the possibility of assigning library cards to students without having them physically come into the library.

The problem with this, Dieckhaus said, is getting parents’ signatures and verifying home addresses.

“Scenic (Regional Library) did a pilot program with this last year,” said Appell. “At (school) orientation there was a box which you could opt in as part of the enrollment.”

“If that worked, that would be the most liable way of doing it,” said Lick.

Dieckhaus agreed, but said there is a legal issue to consider.

“Unlike the school library, we don’t censor our material,” she said, noting the online materials, such as e-books, aren’t censored either. “If they (parents) sign it on documents that aren’t ours, is that still our legal responsibility?”

She suggested taking the issue to the city attorney. The board voted in favor of looking further into this idea.

“I always want books in kids’ hands, but I don’t want the library ending up liable for anything,” said Lick.

Dieckhaus and Appell will present proposals regarding access and checkout extension of library materials and providing students with library cards at next month’s meeting.