School and Public Library Collaboration
The ALSC, AASL, and YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation was the special guest for the October 9, 2018 #kylchat. Guest moderators included April Witteveen, Lori Coffey Hancock, Natalie Romano, and Jill Woychowski. This month, we discussed the partnerships between school and public libraries and the #SPLCtoolkit.
What advice would you offer to librarians beginning a new partnership with their counterpart in a school or public library?
April Witteveen suggests getting to know each other as people first. Start by conversing, having snacks, and sharing ideas before planning a collaborative project. Cassie Fischer, speaking from the public library point of view, suggests coming with enthusiasm and ideas. No one wants to make the effort to collaborate and then get no interest from the other side. Kelli Reno suggests getting to know each other’s spaces. She toured several Lexington Public Library maker spaces to get ideas for technology for her school library. She says that this opens doors for student access both in and out of school.
Another idea is to read the School-Public Library Partnerships toolkit first and then visit each other’s library, getting to know one another’s community and finding uninterrupted time to meet
(Lori Hancock). Send the library an email to introduce yourself. Even better, if you are a school librarian, physically go to the public library. Give them a business card with your @twitter handle (Amanda Hurley). Offer to support existing programs, publicize the other library’s programs, and share resources (Jill Woychowski). Reach out to the other librarians in your district–even in the “rival school” for support (Rhonda Bell). Work with your PLCs. If you do only one thing, have the children’s librarian come share about the summer reading program. Geneva Hoffman contacts the schools before the school year begins and offers to come in and talk to the teachers about what resources the library offers to help them throughout the school year. All five elementary schools give her time to come in and speak. Natalie Romano reminds us to be persistent and patient–good partnerships take time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Heidi Neltner says that without the support of the Kenton County Public Library and the supplemental resources and directions for finding resources was invaluable. Start small with collaborations that do not take time or money such as linking websites or passing out information about programs (Hannah Byrd Little). Geneva Hoffman states that the way she began working with the schools was to contact someone who was looking for any kind of assistance. Lori Hancock reminds us that a great time to get the attention of school librarians is at the Summer Refresher. Betsy York says to balance where collaborative meetings take place. It’s good to have public librarians come to the school as well as students come to the public library.
How have you worked with your public or school librarian during fall and winter breaks to foster ongoing collaboration throughout the school year?
Jessica Sparrow and her YA Public librarian text/email often about different ideas such as having a teen movie night for The Hate U Give. KDLA has a webinar called “Summer Reading Partnership: A Story of Cooperation between the Boone County Schools & Public Library”. Heidi Neltner says that she found that taking time to reach out and schedule meetings or visits was a little easier on Fall or Winter break when she had more time to spend. Karrie Chajkowski suggests making sure kids have access to the public libraries’ amazing online resources, especially e-books and audio books. Also make sure that kids are aware of their programming occurring while off on break. April Witteveen mentioned the article, “Summers: Some Are Reading, Some Are Not! It Matters.” The Reading Teacher 69(6) by Maria Cahill & colleagues. Studies show the importance of choice/free access to books/technology, book ownership, and focus on reading for pleasure. The Paul Sawyer Public Library will deliver books to the school from the public library. Rhonda Bell pushes her students to apply for public library cards to take advantage of this service. Natalie Romano works to help bring storytimes into second-language classrooms on a regular basis.
What does your public/school library collaboration look like during the school year?
Continuous collaboration throughout the school year is an area of needed growth for many of us. Kelli Reno tries to promote public library services and links to ebooks and audiobooks the public library has to support reading. Holly Hart advertises public library programs on her school website and invites the Newport branch teen librarian to local events about literacy. Jessica Sparrow posts Nelson County Public Library teen events on her school’s digital announcements and school website. They also promote summer reading and have monthly book clubs. Jessica gives out library card applications and the teen librarian picks them up and brings her the cards. Amanda Hurley stops by the Teen area at her public library and takes pictures of any promotions or signs of upcoming events. Sharing out on Instagram and Twitter is one way to tell students about their programs.
Natalie Romano recommends looking at Limitless Libraries (Nashville, TN) as a partnership example led by Allison Barney, former #SPLC chair. The #splctoolkit references Library Linx, one library system’s way to deliver library material to area schools. It has resulted in robust relationships between the youth services librarians and their school media staff. Jill Woychowski states that knowing your community as well as the school’s community is essential to creating any great partnership. Survey your community and know your demographics.
The partnerships offer support in many ways. Jen Gilbert and her ELA teachers go on “walking field trips” to get books from the public library across the street. For Karrie Chajkowski, it changes throughout the year. There is pulling and brainstorming of resources, helping to plan lessons, tech and resource education, and picking up items from the public library for teachers if items can’t be found. For Heidi Neltner, the collaboration comes in the form of being available to support things like back to school nights, cultural nights and STEM. Librarians from the public library also help train kids on using ebooks and one of their schools is close enough that that kids can walk for field trips. Katie Newton’s public library system is helping give access to online resources to her students and working to do a tri-school read. Boone County Public Library has a staff person assigned to every school as a liaison/point of contact. Amanda Hurley asks for assistance from the public library when it comes to bibliographies or resources that she doesn’t have at her school or the other district schools. She says they always come through with ideas on what students can use to fulfill their reading requirements. She also asks the librarians to be judges for writing contests or Poetry Slams and to serve as guest speakers to foster collaboration throughout the year. Geneva Hoffman’s public library takes “book crates” to every classroom at the elementary schools to help offer a wider variety of books to students and help the teacher’s and school’s budget. The Flyer Library uses interlibrary loan to fill requests for students who request titles that don’t fit the school’s collection guidelines or for which it doesn’t have funds to purchase.
What tools do you use to keep up with your public or school librarian throughout the year?
Communication is key for a partnership to succeed. There are many ways to keep in contact with your public or school counterpart. Michelle Cooper and Jill Woychowski, use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, blog posts, and texts. April Witteveen created a newsletter series that shares info on public library resources and fun tidbits for area educators. Natalie Romano suggests keeping the conversation going by setting benchmarks throughout the year related to ongoing communication with your school or public librarian. Erin Pifer emails her public librarian to come in to do a mini class after school on 3D printing once a month. She also asks them to get different mediums of the KBA books so more kids at all reading levels can partake in the KBA challenge. Marketing tools like calendars, print materials, and other social media outlets can help you cross-promote programs to students throughout the year (Natalie Romano). Send home or post monthly newsletters/calendars/pamphlets from the public library and promote the activities to students and staff.
Do you have templates to share that can help others further develop school/public library collaboration?
The #splctoolkit is a great resource as well as the new standards ( Lori Hancock). Public librarians can reserve a copy of the standards from KDLA. Jill Woychowski shares that teacher/grade partner collaboration forms can be adapted to school-public library collaboration–set a goal to work toward and how to measure success to focus–but don’t forget to enjoy the process! Natalie Romano suggests looking at the template: School–Public Library Collaborative Planning Form at the end of chapter 5 of the #splctoolkit. These are great questions and prompts to spark a conversation! The #splctoolkit includes templates for co-planning collaborative programs that include goals, outcomes, responsibilities, resources, and materials.
As school librarians, what outreach/help would you like to have from your local public library?
Erin Pifer has plans for celebrating Comic Book Week and will be reaching out to the public library for help to make that happen. Karrie Chajkowski says one of the best things that @KentonLibrary did was host the librarians once a year and let them know new materials, programs, etc. It was a great chance to collaborate, meet, and chat! They also came to train! Amanda Hurley suggests that the public library send emails to the school librarians to tell/remind about their programs. Several librarians mentioned that they love having public librarians lead programs at their schools. The Laurel County Public Library hosts performances of plays by touring companies. They align the plays with texts taught at the school such as Julius Caesar or The Diary of Anne Frank.
Be sure to check out the School-Public Library Partnerships toolkit for resources to help in your collaboration efforts. If you are a school librarian and you need help finding information about whom to contact at your public library, try using KDLA’s Kentucky Public Library Directory.