The Osceola County School District is asking students and parents to return more than 37,000 overdue library books, valued near $750,000, that were taken out last school year.
The School District recently posted a plea on its social media platforms asking those who have books to return them.
According to Media and Instructional Technology Department Library Media Supervisor Michelle C. Jarrett, the district is missing 37,801 books as of last week. And that’s an expensive replacement cost.
“Right now, it is close to $750,000 to replace all our overdue and missing library books if you figure the average cost of a book is $20/book,” Jarrett said in an email. “This includes library processing and library quality binding.”
How did so many books go missing?
When students went home for spring break in March, the School District wanted students to check out as many books as they wanted so they had them to read over the break.
“The next day, the country essentially shut down for the pandemic and we had a large number of books with our students at home,” said Jarrett. “That’s a good thing because we want student to have access to as many print resources as possible. It’s just been a challenge to get them returned.”
It didn’t help that the district has so many students who have chosen to continue digital learning at home so they haven’t had the opportunity to return the books.
School libraries are the main place that school age children have access to print books. So, when the district has a large number of books not returned, those books are essentially not available to any other students.
“We want to provide the best opportunities and selection we can for our children,” Jarrett said.
It’s a hindrance the School District has never seen before.
“This is definitely the highest number of overdue books we have ever seen!” Jarrett said.
Unlike public libraries, the School District does not charge overdue fines for students and families.
She stressed that it’s encouraging that students are reading, but the books do need to be returned. The school media center with the most returned books will win a media center prize pack.
“School libraries are funded by tax dollars, for which we are grateful! When books don’t get returned though, it’s tax dollars that are lost and tax dollars that are needed to continue to replace these valuable resources for children,” Jarrett said.