Covid-19 Results in Loss of Dimond Books

A common problem that occurs often between school years is the loss of books and reading material, either from students misplacing and books or from literature simply becoming too worn out and damaged to be used. 

However, the Covid-19 crisis and the quarantine in response to it have caused even greater stress on Dimond’s supply of books, not only for the library but also for the English Department.

Antara Brewer, the Dimond AP Literature and Composition teacher and chair of the school’s English department has felt the loss of irreplaceable books keenly.

Brewer said, “My guess is that we lost 20 percent of the books we checked out.”

Brewer said the majority of lost books came from 2019-2020 seniors, many of whom had no chance to return school books due to the fourth quarter quarantine. 

Brewer said, “There wasn’t a drop off spot day or night where kids could drop off books last spring,” to the point that, “I sat out in front of Burlington Coat Factory and sent out Reminds to have books dropped off.”

However, the English Department is not the only part of Dimond’s literary depository that has been badly affected by lost books.

Suzanne Metcalfe, the Dimond librarian, said, “The report I want to run shows 529 items out. The report the District wants to run, which narrows things a little bit, shows 398 items out.”
The district’s categorization of “items” is somewhat different from Dimond’s, resulting in different numbers for missing items. Items under Metcalfe’s first report could include audiotapes, magazines, and whatever else the library will allow students to check out.

This in any case is more than three times the amount Dimond’s library loses annually. 

As Metcalfe said, “We typically lose 90 to 170 books.”

However, returns this year were heavily affected by the spring quarantine, which forced schools online and made customary communication with students impossible.

Metcalfe said, “In the spring is when the library books get returned because I send out notices before Prom and Senior Fun Day.” 

However, with in-school services nonexistent, there was no way to remind or pressure seniors to return books. 

Another problem with seniors being out of the building last year was that there was no way to claim fees from students.

Brewer said, “AP Lang last year, we lost maybe 15 copies of ‘The Things They Carried,’ which may not seem like a lot but all those were hardcopy which cost about $20 each. So that was about $300 [lost] for one class.”

The library was also heavily hit by lack of ability to pay or at least have students replace books that had been lost or damaged.

Metcalfe said, “I don’t usually submit fines,” but instead has students replace damaged books with copies bought by students.

However, despite this the library has still managed to regain many of the books it lost over the summer through the student drop off in front of Dimond, which is still available for general use, 

Dimond has been lucky to get at least some copies back of especially sought-after books.

Metcalfe said, “I think we got a lot back, some books there are three or four stacks of, like “The Alchemist.”

Dimond and the ASD as a whole has another unique problem when it comes to losing books: military families being reposted outside the state or even the country.

Brewer said, “I have some former students who graduated in May and moved to Germany over the summer.

“One of them sent me a message that said, ‘Wow, I have a couple of Mr. Reese’s books’ that are now over in a military base in Germany.”

Book loss will continue to affect Dimond’s English Department through the coming months, or possibly years, however. 

Brewer said, “I think it means for me that I have to be more careful with my money, my department’s money.”

With so many books irretrievable due to a departed senior class, or due to restrictions caused by Covid, it may be up to the Dimond student body to help the school’s English Department and library stay well stocked.