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Student-Led Purchasing

Student-Led Purchasing Programs gives students a voice and a choice in their library!

When learning about trending library programs in 2015, I was introduced to Andy Plemmons at Barrow Library in Georgia. Andy uses the student-led purchasing program to give his students a voice and a choice for school library purchases.


Since 2015, dozens of schools in the greater Houston area have participated in student led purchasing facilitated by Literacy for Texas.

Andy explains his Student Led Purchasing Program

Student Selection

Selecting Library Ambassadors


Start your student-led purchasing program by selecting student representation from various grade levels throughout your school. Students can be selected based on criteria that meets your program’s needs.  Some possibilities include: students vote for ambassadors, teacher recommendations, or students selected to fill certain program needs.


Library Ambassadors will be responsible for:

  • Surveying students in all grade levels to determine what types of books they would like to see added to the library.

  • Meeting with librarian and publisher’s representative to review catalogs and titles

  • Managing budget and purchasing lists

  • Promoting student-led purchasing program and new book arrival throughout school

Meadow Wood Blog Post- Book Ambassadors

Student Survey and Results

Student Voice & Student Choice

Library Ambassadors create a survey using Google Forms to ask students what they would like to see purchased for the library. Consider using a survey containing pictures for your younger friends.

Students are asked to give feedback on:

  • Grade

  • Genre requests

  • Specific wants for the library using open-ended response boxes

  • Library Ambassadors then analyze the results and narrow the focus by looking at the top results from the survey for consideration.

Book Preview and Selection

Publisher’s Representative (that’s Literacy For Texas!) brings catalogs and books to meet with student purchasing committee.  

  • Representative explains their job and facilitates a quick review of the survey

  • Librarian discusses how they are going to select books

  • Encourage student feedback and analysis throughout the process


Students LOVE to browse titles and make selections based on student voice and student choice!

Book Wishlists and Budgeting

After meeting with Representative, students look through the catalogs and chose books based on the top choices from the student survey data.

  • The lists are created!

  • Budgets are discussed

  • We discussed the collection

  • Book prices are a factor


A list was made and students discussed what books to keep on the list, within the budget.

Finalizing the Purchase

Several meetings might be needed to narrow the list for the budget.


After the students have chosen the final books, representative prepares a quote and the librarian gives it to his/her admin assistant for a purchase order.

Now you wait for the books to arrive!  In the meantime, you can start promoting these new books.

Don’t be afraid to include students in this step.  It makes it even more real for them and let’s them see the full process it takes to get books in the library.

Andy Plemmons’ Blog Post- Final List

Promoting and Book Celebration

Once your new books arrive, it is time to celebrate!


Library Ambassadors will get to unbox the new books and are in charge of helping promote them on campus.

  • Book Birthday Party

  • Book Trailer/Reviews

  • New Displays

  • Choose where books will go in the library

  • Students label the books and help shelve them

Where To Go From Here

The role of Library Ambassadors can continue to grow and expand with your program.  

Have the students help decide how their role can be developed to meet the needs of your program.


Some ideas to continue to grow the program include:

  • Students can create podcasts, video book chats, and “Where to Find” videos

  • Students can provide book talks in classrooms and on school morning announcements

  • Increase the number of ambassadors- having only a select number on the purchasing committee will minimize how often students are out of class

    • Committees could include: purchasing, book promotion (primary), book promotion (intermediate)

  • Lead the charge for school-wide reading challenges

  • Help create promotional materials

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