Libraries and schools across the country collaborate to promote library card sign-ups at the beginning of each school year. Annual efforts include blog posts, official proclamations, and lists of schools supplies sent out to parents. Last year, Philadelpha City Schools and Free Library merged databases to give nearly 100,000 students library cards. In April of this year, President Obama announced the ConnectED Library Challenge with the lofty goal of putting a public library card into the hand of every school student. As of August 5, nearly 50 communities had adopted the initiative.
Accomplishing this will be no easy task. When you live in an area (as I do) where one school district serves multiple library districts and vice versa, knowing where to go to get a public library card can be confusing. Unincorporated areas, which often aren’t served by any public library, compound this. At least one nearby library has mitigated that issue by signing contracts with local schools that allow students who live in the unincorporated areas to receive a card for use during the school year.
One neighboring community, Skokie, has adopted the ConnectED Library Challenge. The Village of Skokie is a northwest suburb of Chicago, and is home to a little over 64,000 people. The village straddles two different townships, and so public high school students attend one of two different districts. One township, Niles, is also home to a portion of the Village of Niles, which makes up a significant portion of the Niles Public Library District. Confused yet? Students from four different library districts all attend Niles Township High School District 219.
Seize the opportunities!
Teen Read Week is a terrific opportunity to continue or begin a wonderful school and public library collaboration. October is a great month to implement good TRW programming as the school year starts to settle into its groove and students are interesting in getting involved. The sooner you plan your TRW program – even just brainstorming in the springtime, the better!
Some helpful tips for initiating that school and public library relationship:
- Write a letter to your middle and high school librarians and school principals at the beginning of September.’ Introduce yourself if you are a new hire – and welcome everyone back to the school year! It will be a whirlwind for everyone in early September so allow ample time for response.
- Follow up with a friendly email or phone call. Think of a good time to meet and enjoy a school/public librarian chat!
- ‘ Remember: flexibility is key from the first phone call through the actual TRW programming!
- ‘ If the school district has a librarians’ meeting, ask the coordinator or leader of the group if you may drop in and talk about the public library.
Brainstorm! Be sure to check out TRW activities and planning timeline!
- Connect with teachers and librarians on judging a writing or “picture-it” contest. Allow time for creating the works, submission deadline and judging. Announce the winner(s) at a TRW party!
- Hold a joint book discussion group after school at a library.
- Present book talks in schools – have students film their own booktalks!
- Public libraries and school libraries may be able to share resources such as equipment, meeting space, extra book copies for discussions, extra TRW bookmarks and posters, free books, whatever!
- Host a joint author event! See if you can book the author for a two part program – a writing workshop at school and a large-scale author talk in a bigger meeting area (public library meeting room, school auditorium, teen rec center, etc.).
- Teen Advisory Boards can bridge the gaps from the public library to the school library! TABs and teen school volunteers can help plan TRW events.
- And one BIG incentive for teens: talk with teachers about offering extra credit on any TRW programs they attend.
Share what YOU are doing to make that school/public library connection during Teen Read Week.
Leave a comment and let everyone know!