Blogger Abby Johnson

Boxes of Books for Teachers

Photo by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL

After last month’s post about starting to booktalk in our local schools, I got several questions about our School Collection Cards and I wanted to share some more information about this excellent outreach program.

We’ve been doing School Collections at my library for many years (since before I started here) and my previous library has a similar program. At my previous library, I was in charge of filling School Collections for our preschools and daycares and it was a great way to get to know the collection and connect with our teachers.

Basically, any teacher, daycare worker, or childcare provider who works in our county is eligible for a free School Collection Card. School Collection Cards are kept at the library and used to check out books, audiobooks, DVDs, book discussion sets, etc. for classroom use. Teachers can request books to be pulled on a certain subject or theme, books for a certain age range or reading level, or certain titles they would like. Some teachers send us copies of their upcoming lesson plans and ask us to send any books we have available. And some teachers like to pick out their own books and then have them checked out on their School Collection Cards. When we visit schools for booktalks, we offer to set up a School Collection card and bring a box with the books we’re talking up so that the children have access to them right in their room.

We pull the requested books, check them out on the teacher’s card, and have them sent to the public schools through the school mail system or have them available for other teachers to pick up in the Children’s Room.

We stress to the teachers that the books are to be for classroom use, meaning items that will be used for professional development or with their students (not personal reading for teacher), but we leave it up to each teacher to decide if she will allow students to take the books home. Some do, some don’t.

The benefits for teachers?

  • We do the work of selecting books for them to use and getting them organized.
  • There are NO FINES on teacher cards. We only charge them if a book is truly lost.
  • While our default loan period is 4 weeks, we will extend the loan period for teachers upon their request. We will also renew books as long as demand allows.
  • Convenient delivery to their school (in some cases)!

The benefits for the library?

  • So, so many circ stats! Currently, we’re doing about 25 collections a month, each box averaging 20-25 books. It adds up!
  • A blossoming relationship with our teachers and childcare providers. Teachers have learned about what resources we have available and many of our teachers are repeat customers.
  • It helps staff really dig in and get to know the collection and it makes us more aware of what lessons/units our local teachers are doing so we know what we might need to purchase or update.

Tips and tricks:

  • We have one person in charge of coordinating the program and it takes probably at least 10-20 hours of her time each week (depending on how many requests we have and any issues that arise). Every staff member has pitched in to help pull collections at some point, but it’s great to have one person coordinating it and on top of any issues that might arise.
  • See if you can partner with your local school system to take advantage of whatever courier service they’re using between buildings. They may be willing to add the library to their route and getting collections delivered and picked up is a big draw for some of our teachers.
  • Order more boxes than you think you will need! We order cardboard boxes from our local office supply store and tape page protectors to the top to hold a label that we print out. At my previous library we used nice canvas bags. There’s an option for your budget.
  • What about homeschoolers? We do not offer special cards for homeschoolers, BUT we are always happy to pull books on a topic/subject and/or reading level just like we will do for the teachers.

Does anyone else have special library cards for teachers or childcare workers? What’s worked for you? What questions do you have about our program?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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