An in-depth look at what an advanced library automation system can do to encourage reading
A pet peeve of the older generation is the aversion of kids and young adults to reading. Unfortunately, the more the seniors complain, the more the younger generation is inclined to rebel and reject books en bloc. However, as an educator, your goal is not to win a war of generations, but to enhance your students’ reading habits. I would, therefore, recommend a slight shift in attitude and perspective to draw your students to the fine books that line your school library shelves. Students of Gen Z can become true blue bibliophiles if your library combines the best of reading material with smart, user-friendly technology.
It is possible that some modules and features of your school library management software are not being used to their optimal capacity. Your school software provider is duty-bound to train the librarian in the management and implementation of the system they have installed. The right software, when fully utilized, is certain to bring about a sea change in the “look and feel” of your library. And this change is sure to thrill and attract your students.
Every aspect of a good library software system should normally be rich in functionality. The best systems have come into being, after all, to fulfill certain fundamental human needs: the need to save time and resources, the need for order, variety and independence. These needs exist across generations and cultures. If your library automation system mirrors these needs adequately, your students will not hesitate to spend more time surrounded by books.
Let us take a look at how your library software can initiate your students to the reading habit, and help them maintain the habit for the sheer joy it brings them.
Bringing them the speed that thrills: A trait most Gen Z students are criticized for is their impatience with all things slow. Speed is what excites them. They have little patience for slow systems and processes. If procuring or returning a book is perceived as a slow process, you can speed it up with library software that enables quick and error-free issuance of books. Self Check Kiosks permit self-automated checking in/out of books to students. In seconds, the RFID Reader at the Kiosk approves the book and issues it. This speed and the seamless execution of all operations characterize cutting-edge student management systems. Thus, our young men and women in a hurry would be most at ease with faster book search and identification of book details, book drop stations, e-book uploading and more, all done in a flash.
Allowing them to explore and choose: Present-day students, especially young adults, cherish their freedom of choice. They would not resist reading prescribed books or documents, provided they are also allowed to explore other reading material. Do go in for an ERP library software that offers them more choice in reading material. This would mean accepting that students will not be limited in their choice of books. Being a singularly Google-friendly generation, they may wish to explore books and articles/blogs through online search options, or they may wish to read e-books that they can upload easily. They may wish to be connected with other libraries to view other collections and procure books available elsewhere. It is imperative that you, as a liberal educator, give them the space and freedom to read in all formats and in a variety of mediums.
An online public access catalogue should be a key module in your library software, wherein libraries across the world can upload and upgrade their book database, inter-library loans are possible and students can search book details according to the title, author, publisher, keyword, subject, etc. Finally, with 24/7 online access, a smart phone-based book search App can become a unique and enriching common platform for book lovers to share information and books. But do make sure the online public access catalogue is made accessible to the student community. Fear of misuse should not inhibit use of a platform which could greatly enhance the student’s quest for interesting reading material and inculcate the reading habit in them.
Limits without lectures: Students need to know what their limits are, but most students, especially adolescents, love their independence. Establishing limits harshly, by first laying down very strict guidelines, then imposing humiliating punishments if these guidelines are not followed can traumatize a student. In the context of a library, rules apply mainly to returning books within a due date and in good condition. There may be some habitual offenders who damage books or fail to return them on time…or at all. To avoid unpleasant scenes, denials and refutations, fines and humiliation, librarians can allow their software to lay down the rules, issue the reminders and prevent theft of resources.
When students self-check in or check out books, they need no adult supervision. The powerful security portal at the door would raise an alarm if they walked out with a stolen book. No student would want to risk being caught red-handed in full view of all visitors at the library. The system also issues overdue/recall notices and due date reminders via SMS and email. Thus neutral, peaceful and impersonal messages are sent out to students so they can feel self-reliant, know their limits and avoid humiliating lectures. The system of reminders, if implemented diligently, preserves the student’s self-esteem, and makes reading a positive, enriching and stimulating experience.
Library software does more than replace humans and save time and paper. If fully utilized, it creates a space of relative anonymity, where students feel independent and capable of exercising their free will. Not monitored or upbraided constantly by stern authorities, not diminished in any way for choosing an e-book over a voluminous bound classic, the student can break the shackles of high expectations and feel free to read at his pace and time, from his own comfort zone.
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