Remember the credit card ad campaign that asked TV viewers, “What’s in your wallet?” It had a bunch of Viking-types doing all sorts of bold and daring stuff, empowered by a piece of plastic that put the world at their fingertips. Oh, the adventure! Oh, the intrigue!
Oh, I can do you one better:
Imagine those Vikings are the kids and teens we see every day at our libraries. When we shout out, “What’s in your wallet?” to their sea of smiling faces, and each and every one of them proudly exclaims, “My library card!”
Awesome, right? Now that’s an ad I’d watch the Super Bowl to see.
As public library professionals, we know we’re handing kids the world when we hand them library cards. The best part? Our school library colleagues know that, too. That makes September the perfect time to collaborate with the schools in your community. It’s more than just back-to-school business. It’s Library Card Sign-Up Month!
The AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration (SPLC Committee for short) presents this Top Ten list of ways you can work with your school library colleagues this September to make sure it’s all in the cards for kids:
- Schedule classroom visits at local schools to give kids the low-down on library card ownership. They’ll love seeing you in person on their turf!
- Arrange to send a library card application and welcome letter from the public library in every student’s take-home folder or backpack in early September.
- Coordinate library card sign-up events at schools, and make them a Big Deal. Think open houses, back-to-school nights, and book fairs where you’ll see lots of families as well as students.
- Create Library Card Walls of Fame at both school and public libraries. Incentivize sign-ups by posting the names of new library cardholders on dedicated “I Got My Library Card!” bulletin boards.
- Organize a library card photo shoot, snapping shots of students holding their brand-new library cards. Arrange to have the photos displayed in their school libraries. (Get signed photo release forms from parents if you want to use the photos at your public library.)
- Hold “How Many Ways?” contests in both school and public libraries, challenging kids to list as many ways as they can to use their library cards. See which library can come up with the most ideas!
- Arrange library card issue through elementary-grade teachers. Ask them to collect completed library card applications for you and verify students’ addresses through school records to make issuing cards a breeze.
- Target middle and high school students at lunchtime by passing out library card applications in the cafeteria or other areas where students gather during free periods.
- Invite students, teachers, and school staff members to share their “My First Library Card” stories at all-school assemblies or Family Reading Nights. Ask school librarians or even principals to emcee the events with you.
- Throw a Library Card Sign-Up Month celebration at the end of September, inviting all new library cardholders–and your local school librarians–to attend the festivities at the public library.
We bet you’ve got lots more creative ways to celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month with your local schools. Let us know what we missed by leaving your comments below!
Today’s guest contributor is Jenna Nemec-Loise, Member Content Editor of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy website and Chairperson of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration (SPLC). E-mail her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter (@ALAJenna).