I recently had a meeting with the Elementary Literacy Consultant at our local school board. Our library region covers the same area as the school board, so that is convenient for us (unlike some large library systems that may have more than one school district). I requested a meeting for a couple of reasons– to listen, and to find out how we can get more teachers using our collections. School libraries have small budgets (and library staff in schools is slim). Students still need access to a wide variety of quality books, and we have them! So how do I get them into the classrooms?
After my meeting, I had a few takeaways and some work to do. I am preparing an invitation to all teachers at all schools to get a library card. I am trying to make it easy– sending them a registration form and outlining the services we have. Our library offers an “institutional” card to teachers — they can check out as many items as they need for their classroom, and keep them for 6 weeks (our normal check-out period is 3 weeks) — and they do not pay overdue fines. It is a good deal – but only if they know about it!
I also plan to create more online booklists with teachers in mind. I asked for (and received!) a curriculum outline–a simple guide to the subjects that are being studied, for each grade. As new books come in, I can now target them for lists or for adding to my blog, which I started with our own library staff in mind. The new books cross my path before they hit the shelves, and as I am addicted to picture books, I can’t help taking piles of them home and making notes. Now I have new ways to look at these books, and I’ve added a section “Of Interest to Teachers” in upcoming blog posts.
With a new focus on teaching from children’s books rather than textbooks, I see this as a win-win opportunity. I’m always looking for ways to make our collection more accessible to our community, and now I have a few ideas for reaching out to teachers. What do you do? How do you partner with schools? How do you get the books into the hands of teachers and students? Let’s hear your ideas!