Common Core in the Public Library?

As something primarily affecting school curricula, public librarians may not immediately be taking too much notice of Common Core. But we are all connected- if only through our users- and the implications of the new educational standards may provide interesting opportunities for public and school librarians to collaborate. From collections to online resources, there may be simple ways that public librarians can market our services and help both teachers and students get the most out of what we have to offer.

Here are just a few ideas to get started:

– Ask your local school librarians and/or the state association of school media specialists to speak to your library staff about Common Core. If they are organizing a training session, see if you can tag along. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to position your library as a partner.

– Know the lingo. As students, parents, and teachers visit your library, they may begin asking for materials with “rigor,” “rich text,” or “inquiry-based learning.” There are websites, such as http://www.corestandards.org/, that can give you a good overview.

– Common Core has a strong focus on non-fiction reading. This is great news! For years we’ve been toting the benefits of reading non-fiction. Now’s the chance to pull An American Plague, The Frog Scientist, and Almost Astronauts off the shelf for a Narrative Non-Fiction display or booklist. For many years most English teachers focused on fiction. This is where your expertise in the realm of children’s and young adult non-fiction literature can really prove helpful.

– The purpose in reading all that non-fiction is to make connections to the wider world. The process involves comparing, integrating, synthesizing, and evaluating books and information. How about starting a Non-Fiction Book Club?

– Get ready to buy much more non-fiction. Look at your current book budget and purchasing patterns. Do you tend to purchase most heavily in middle grade fiction? That’s about to change. Common Core emphasizes a 50/50 spilt. As publishers feel the implications of Common Core, more narrative non-fiction and rich texts are going to be published. Make sure you are ready to adapt and clear some room on your shelves!

– It’s not all about older kids. The emphasis on informational texts begins in pre-K. So, keep your eye out for great non-fiction picture books. Perhaps begin using more non-fiction in your storytimes. Doing an animal theme at Preschool Time? Try adding a Gail Gibbons or Steve Jenkins book into the mix.

Have you already begun collaborating with your local schools on Common Core? Are you thinking differently about collections and the intersection of non-fiction and fiction? Please share your thoughts below.



  1. Maggie

    We are incorporating more non-fiction into our programs and displays. We will have a Just the Facts winter reading program for kids. Because of ECRR2 we are also thinking about bringing parents attention to our easy non-fiction collection by housing it nearer to the picturebooks and easy readers.

    thanks for your suggestions…gives us more to think about.

  2. Beth hatch

    Our Youth Services Manager, at Twinsburg Public Library, will be meeting with the Curriculum Director of the local school district to discuss Common Core and 3rd Grade Guarantee. We’ve already implemented a delivery system for our library to send books to teachers who request them. For us, it is imperative that the schools and public libraries work together to get the materials and databases that the students need. We will definitely be keeping the core in mind when ordering our books. After all, our nonfiction usually goes out for school projects, so why not order what is needed?

  3. Margaret Woodruff

    Hi. I’d love to hear more ideas about exploring and enhancing Common Core at public libraries. We are late out of the gate but willing and excited to catch up!

  4. Peg Glisson

    Might I suggest taking a look at these three articles, part of CLCD’s series on Common Core and Libraries? Access at http://www.clcd.com/index.php/featuredarticles
    Common Core: Isn’t That Just for Schools?: Common Core and the Public Library, Part I; By Peg Glisson; July 2012
    Common Core: Isn’t That Just for Schools?: Common Core and the Public Library, Part II Impact on Programming and Services; By Peg Glisson; August 2012
    Common Core: Where to Start? Common Core and Collection Development; By Peg Glisson; September 2012

    Common Core: Isn’t That Just for Schools?: Common Core and the Public Library, Part I; By Peg Glisson; July 2012

  5. Barbara Klipper

    I just saw this post…someone sent me the link. Excellent.
    An additional benefit of offering book clubs and book discussions centered on non-fiction is that they will be more appropriate for kids with autism. For a number of reasons, these kids prefer, and are better able to deal with, non-fiction than fiction.

  6. Rachel Reinwald

    Peg, I believe I read these articles before, but the link was broken when I tried to get back to them. Can you email me the updated link?

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