Tuesday, November 11, 2014

School and Public Library Collaboration

This past summer I took part in ALSC's Mentoring program.  I was looking for ways to get involved in ALSC and this was a great way where I could give some of my experience while learning something.  I was paired with a LIS student and we were both interested in different aspects of school and public library collaboration.  After some discussion and pointing her to  great resources, we decided to run a survey so she would have a larger pool of information.

The survey ran in July 2014 and we pushed the link out through Twitter, various Facebook groups, and people we knew.  Here are some of our results:
  • 98% of those surveyed work with their local schools.
  • 76% of those surveyed have collaborations that take place at both the school and the public library. 15% take place only at the schools and 6% take place only at the public library.
  • 63% of those surveyed have 2 or less people who work with their local schools.
  • When asked how often they work with local schools, 23% said once a week, 39% said once a month, 7% said once every 6 months, 9% said once a year, and 22% said whenever they could fit it in.
  • Ideas for working with local schools include booktalks (46%), story times (60%), field trips (60%), summer reading visits (80%), library instruction (33%), and other (41%).
The two of us each had a favorite question asked.  My favorite question was “What is your most successful program run with local schools?”  For me, it was an opportunity to see unique ideas that work.  In addition to some more common ideas, such as booktalks, story times, and summer reading visits, there are some great things being done in libraryland.  My favorites that I would like to try and incorporate in my library system include a kindergarten kick-off, a “We sign you up” program for school employees for new library cards, a school bag service, and school literacy nights.

My mentee's favorite question was “Have you incorporated technology into any programs run with your local schools?  If so, what types of technology have you used and how have you used it?”  She was very impressed with the types of technology incorporated into collaborative programs.  Many of the responses included working with tablets (iPads), eReaders (Kindles), and Web 2.0 tools such as Skype or Prezi.  Fun ideas included having a Techmobile visit local schools, using Prezi with school tours, and a virtual tour of Overdrive.  Plus, one library is giving all of their local high school students e-access cards so they will have access to all of the library’s databases.

So what next?  It is 3 months after our project and I was able to use this information in creating this year's goals for our department.  As a young library system, we tended to have a hit-or-miss relationship with our schools.  This year we are doing more targeting and the relationship has become a higher priority.  Here are some things we have or will be accomplishing:
  • We will have a position created and this person will be responsible for coordinating all school collaborations.  With 47 schools, it is easy to get bogged down or lose track of what we did and where.
  • We started a teacher enewsletter that is sent out bimonthly.
  • We have spoken to local PTO's and have gotten on the agenda for teacher development days to talk about the library and what we can offer.
  • We will be visiting local middle schools during conferences to sign kids/teens up for library cards.
While we're not there yet, we have definitely gotten a good start this year.  I am looking forward to seeing the results!

School Bus


  1. I would be interested in seeing more about the results of your survey. Will you be publishing it anywhere?

    1. Right now we aren't planning on publishing it anywhere. If you send me an email to lisaslibraryland at gmail.com, I will gladly forward you a spreadsheet of the results.

  2. I've seen your post on Mich-Lib for this position,and it was really cool reading your blog and seeing the reasoning behind creating this position. I work for a smaller library and while we do some collaboration with our local schools, one of my goals is to do more. This post has some great ideas in it. What a great project for the student your worked with and for children's librarians in general!

    1. Thanks! I am really excited about the possibilities.


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