As the school year wraps up and Summer Learning approaches, now is a perfect time to collaborate with your local school and public libraries. We all know how important it is for students to maintain literacies, math and other skills during summer vacation. It’s time to reach out and work together to give kids the best summer opportunities, especially those who need the most support.
For schools with summer reading expectations, providing summer reading lists to public libraries can help to ensure that they have listed books on hand for students. School library staff can help to facilitate the connection by reminding teachers to prepare and share lists in spring. Having reading lists early helps public libraries to purchase books before Youth Services Departments get too busy with summer programs.
Public library staff who serve youth can contact their local schools to promote summer learning opportunities. At the elementary level, visiting library classes to encourage students to participate in summer programs can get kids excited about the public library. They should have a flyer or brochure ready to send home with elementary students. Some libraries issue public library cards to students through school, and this can help kids take ownership of their library and strengthen the relationship between school and library.
At the middle and high school level, library staff have to get creative to promote summer programs. Public library staff may be able to visit English/Humanities classes, set up a table during lunches, or attend an end of the year event to promote summer programs. School library staff can promote public library summer programs on the school website or putting up posters around school. Teens often have many demands on their summer time, so public libraries may be most successful getting teen participation with evening programs or virtual programs that don’t require physical visits to the library. Since summer programs are usually most popular with younger children, public library staff may find volunteer or page positions at the library the best draw for teens. Especially for younger teens, the library can be an excellent first step into the workplace. School library staff can help to recommend their most enthusiastic teens for volunteer opportunities or paid jobs at the public library.
In my neck of the woods, the April’s Maine Reading Round Up conference provides a golden opportunity for school and public library staff who serve children and teens to connect. Just carpooling to the conference with my public library counterparts is one of the best ways to catch-up and plan future collaboration. We also pick up great ideas from other libraries at conference workshops, which we share on the drive home. The timing is great to reengage collaboration in preparation for summer.
School Library Connection just hosted a webinar: The Perfect Equation for Summer Reading Success. The presenters shared a ton of a great ideas for collaboration between school and public library staff to keep students learning throughout the summer. They covered topics from initial outreach, to marketing, incentives, and program ideas. They also encouraged school staff to actively participate in public library programs throughout the summer. The webinar recording is available on the SLC website. YALSA also offers a wealth of resources via its summer learning site. Check out these resources!
Katie Klein is Library Media Specialist at Lake Region High School in Maine. Katie earned her MLIS from Rutgers in 2005 and has been a YALSA member since 2006. She currently serves on the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation.