This program was a partnership between Saint Marys Area Middle School and the Saint Marys Public Library. It started when I was talking with the public librarian about coming for her annual visit to go on our televised morning announcements and talk about summer reading. Since I knew that she was willing to come for a full day, I asked if she wanted to add to her summer reading promotion. In addition to going on the morning announcements, she could be a station in an activity I was doing for the end of the year with 6th grade. We decided to give the students a list of questions that they had to ask the public librarian.

Here’s the list of questions that the kids had to choose from:

  • What’s your favorite activity that the library’s putting on this summer?
  • A good book I read recently is _________; do you have any recommendations for a book I’d like?
  • How can I participate in summer reading? What’s in it for me?

When they weren’t talking to the public librarian, students were making book recommendations on Flipgrid, looking for books to answer questions, writing on our whiteboard tables about what we should improve on in our library and filling out a citation sheet. It’s a nice activity for the last week of school that allows me to see the students effectively using the library.

Overall, the event went really well. We managed to get most of the 6th grade students to have a conversation with the public librarian. We were able to reinforce all the great things going on in the public library this summer. The kids also enjoyed getting book recommendations from a different source.  

Other ways we’ve promoted collaboration:

Is there a program that your public library does better than you? Last year, we received 15 crochet hooks and yarn through a grant. My public library does a great crochet group, so our public librarian came in to co-teach a program during our club period. Our kids have the right to sign up for any club they want, and I’m always amazed that kids come to me after crochet fills up and BEG to get into the club for the day. If you need ideas for justifying the academic value of crochet:

We have ecards in our state which allow us for remote access to our state databases. The problem is that you have to be signed up. Next fall, we’ll have our public librarian in to talk about ecards and public library resources, and both of us can help students get signed up for remote usage.

Sharing literature lists. Our school participates in the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award, and they make sure to order the books and promote them. We also participate in a reading competition in the fall and in the spring. Our public library makes sure to share books with us as we prepare.

Remember that school and public librarians are two sides of the same coin. We may have a lot of differences between our two worlds, but we are stronger when we reach out to each other and build each other up.

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