“No more pencils! No more books! No more teachers’ dirty looks!” As the school year ends, most children are excitedly looking forward to their break–vacation, fun, and sun. But for some students they are merely trading the regular school routine for that of summer school. Instead of playing catch, they are playing catch up! At the King County Library System (WA) a program partnering with local school districts is working to enhance and add a bit of fun to the summer school experience throughout our service area.
Summer School Busing was piloted in 2005 in five system library branches. Students were transported to their public library for an hour once a week for four weeks. During their visits they were signed up for the Summer Reading Program, given a tour of the library, introduced to an array of materials, and allowed to check out books to read at summer school. The first year 432 students participated, many of whom had never set foot in a library before. Since that time, the program has become a Best Practice, increasing in size through 2012 to more than 3700 students in 13 libraries, solidifying relations between school & public library staff, and creating a new generation of excited young readers!
Here’s a sample schedule from the KCLS model:
Week One: Students arrive, have orientation, sign up for SRP, tour the library, and choose two books to check out (one “just right”–@ reading level–and one “just for fun”).
Weeks Two & Three: Students arrive, return their books from the previous week, listen to book talks, and check-out new books to read at summer school during the coming week.
Interested in developing a Summer Busing Program at your library? Here are a few things to consider:
Contacts: The coordinator for Summer Education and your school librarians are key players. Set up meetings early and often to make it a smooth experience for all. In-house, talk to those staff whose workflow will be affected–your Circulation and Maintenance Departments, as well as getting the rest of the staff on board with having extra students adding to the summertime “mix.”
Transportation: Who will fund it? Obviously, busing doesn’t come for free. Do you have a Friends group or Foundation who can assist? Will the School District pick up the tab? Do you need to consider a grant to pay the costs? This would be a great opportunity for a local business to sponsor a worthwhile program!
Timing: Will the visits take place before the library opens or during regular business hours? Imagine an added layer of children scurrying around looking for that “just right” or “ just for fun” book while Summer Reading Program is going on.
Target Audience: Will you reach out to every summer school class or will you focus on a particular grade range? At KCLS, we make an effort to visit the summer school sites, as well, to reach the classes that we aren’t able to accommodate at the library.
Benefits: There are many–reaching previously unreached children (and often having the opportunity to watch their continued progress each summer); putting a face on the library for school staff and families (or broadening existing relationships); and creating a role for non-Youth Services staff at your library to get involved in an ongoing community-related opportunity.
Once the plan is in place, it is easy to continue from year to year. Contact your schools, try it and see—it’s a win-win for all who are involved!
Beth Rosania, School-Age Programs and Services Committee