Saturday, August 3, 2013

Students on Passes Responses TLC

After posting a question on TLC (Texas Library Connection) listserv, I discovered many other librarians had the same question.  How do you effectively manage and track students using the library on classroom passes?

When I was in a large high school with 3,000 students and 4 library staff members, we required students on passes to sign-in at the circulation desk.  We had a time stamp clock that each student stamped their own passes when they entered and exited the library.  The teacher could easily verify by quickly glancing at the pass indicating time spent in the library.  This system worked smoothly for many years pre-computer age and two paraprofessionals monitoring the process.

I am now in a smaller school with 670 students and myself as the only library staff.  In the last few years I dropped the tradition of students on passes signing in due to many reasons including the time spent managing this task.  As I prepared last year's annual library report I had amazing statistical information on class usage, circulation information, digital eBook usage, programming, and more.  What I didn't have was any information on students using the facility that came in on teacher issued passes.  I felt this was a huge amount of missing information.  So I began to think about an easy process to implement a system that would compile and account for these students.

Here are a few responses that I received from fellow librarians after posting the question.

1. We've used Student Time Clock for 6 years and I'm very happy with it.

2. I have a paper sign in form and must report monthly stats broken into different categories (#ckout, #research, #print used, #nonprint used, # classes and which subjects, and on and on and on).  I am also a one woman show with 1,000 students.  This task requires a huge amount of time each month.  I would love to have a computerized check-in system, but don't know of any already created.  Could you share any responses you get?

3. Here's my very simple solution: I have one computer with a scanner attached. I login and open a Word document. When students enter, they simply scan the barcode on their ID. We are a high school, and all students must wear ID cards. This process ensures student compliance with school policy--students know they must have their ID to enter.

I print the list each day, but I'm sure you can probably figure out some other way to save the data.

Maybe this will help.

4. I set up a LAMP stack on a old lap top and hooked it up to an external monitor, bar code scanner, and number key pad.  On the LAMP stack I just created a My/SQL database using a PHP interface with a local file that runs on the browser, in my case firefox.  Kids just scan or input their id numbers.  All I get is an id number and a time/date stamp when I look at my results at end of the day.

5. We use library time clock.  We have used it for the past three years. It allows us to not only have students sign in on a laptop with their student ID but it also allows for the purpose of their visit.  I can scan the database quickly when administrators want to verify a student's location for discipline or attendance purposes.  It provides awesome stats.  Best of all it was a one time fee of $125.  A retired librarian's husband created it.

6. How about keeping the passes students come in with and giving back another pass when they leave for class?  Stash them and when time allows enter them into a database and you've bypassed a step for the students.  Not only that, but the pass will have other information such as "using the computer" "checking out books" or other details you can also add and use to disseminate information.

On a sidenote, I also did this at one time because of the rash of students coming in when a substitute was in a particular class that day and used this to talk to that sub about sending students down in manageable groups.

7. I made a google form last summer before school started.  I have the students enter only their ID number, it takes them too long to input their names.  I include all information important to me, why they are there and who sent them and how long they are allowed to stay, etc, whatever you want.  I make all of these choice answers so they can choose the appropriate one.  I input all of the teachers names in a drop down menu.  My students are middle school and they can't spell the name, or whatever.  I also put in the teacher name list - before school, during lunch and after school.  This form automatically populates a spreadsheet to me, so I have all statistics I need.  It automatically dates and timestamps. (As long as the computer you are using, has the right date and time)

It took the kids very little time to get used to using it and it became habit and very quick now.

8. I feel your pain!  I also have them sign in but when it gets crazy and I can't watch very carefully, I do find that they write in goofy names & sometimes totally makeup stuff. I can't stop all of that but for the most part the sign in sheet does help:  first & last name, time, date, reason for using computer, & teacher name are our categories. Good luck!

My initial question included my thoughts about trying to use a computer station and a Google form.  In conclusion I believe the Student Time Clock might work for some but I'm ready to experiment with the Google form since I want to try the "free" route. I'm considering to have an old laptop set up for sign-in and allowing students to use their own devices since we have a 1:1 device policy.  I'm not sure how well the 2nd option will unfold since anyone could enter data at any time if the link is made public.  One lesson that I have been taught is to try an idea out first before eliminating the option.

If you have other ideas and suggestions please share!


  1. Option #7 works exceptionally well if you use a dropdown menu for student names too. It takes a little time to create the original name list, but it is easy to update weekly.


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