Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery

School and Public Library Collaborations

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

As I participated in Kindergarten Round Up at Sisters Elementary School last week and recognized 90 percent of the families in the audience, I was reminded of the amazing connection the public library and the school have. This made me smile. Last year, my Get Ready for Kindergarten story time at the library had the largest attendance in years!   This was only possible with the support, time and enthusiasm of Stephanie Jensen, Title I Teacher and Becky Stoughton, Principal at Sisters Elementary School.  They talked with new families at the school, sent out an email and a voice recording to all families with students attending kindergarten in the fall.  The voice recording was amazing!  But this connection didn’t happen overnight.

For the past six years, I’ve watched our relationship grow. What started out as a once or twice a year school visit or classroom(s) visit to the library has turned into a regular monthly connection.    I have an amazing connection with all of the teachers but I have to give a huge shout out to Stephanie, reading specialist and overall extraordinary woman.   Our weekly discussions at the public library when she was returning or checking out piles and piles of books turned into reading programs and the programs turned into parent meetings and the meetings turned into Book Bingo, family reading nights and more!  Together with the encouragement and wonderful communication from Principal Becky, we created a new atmosphere of collaborating ideas.   The connection grew and so did the events.  Sometime the ideas were extreme – creating a live version of The Dot by Peter Reynolds and sometimes quite simple-open house-setting up a table of library information, iPad sharing our website and free giveaways-stickers, book marks, etc.  Overall, each event connected families to books, education and fun!

Parent Information Night photo by Stephanie Jensen
Parent Information Night
photo by Stephanie Jensen

“The positive partnership established between Deschutes Public Library and the Sisters School District highlights the power of coming together to support students and families with local resources. Our schools, families and community benefit and thrive as a result of working together and connecting families with meaningful and engaging materials to support learning at home.” –Stephanie

By now you’re thinking, this is great! We do this every day too. But for me it’s been a goal to strengthen our relationships with our schools and community.   A goal to see our public library filled with families excited about information and books, making the library part of their weekly routine, making the library their space:  connecting families with new books and new resources.  After each event, school visit or family night, I recognize more and more families in the library.  Maybe it’s the following day and a young boy is getting a library card for the first time or maybe it’s a week later and a family attends a LEGO Block Party program.   All of the above make me smile.   I realize we still have a long way to go but I’m excited about the possibilities.  I feel extremely lucky and appreciate all of the Sisters Elementary School staff’s time, excitement and energy.  Parents too! – So many amazing parent/guardian volunteers.

“The Sisters Library provides added support and helps our kids engage in a different type of learning outside our school walls.” Principal Becky

Top 3 favorite connections and collaborations:

Book Bingo and Newsletter photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
Book Bingo and Newsletter photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Book Bingo: A bingo card filled with library and school activities-weekly prizes and a free book after completing bingo.  Activities are completed at home, in the classroom and at the library.

Sisters Parent Teacher Community meetings:  A variety of morning or afternoon meetings to discuss reading nights, open houses, programming, special events, share new library books and library information. The meetings turn into task groups, special event planning and so many great discussions.

Family Reading Nights at Sisters Elementary School: A night filled with interactive stories, activities and information.  A different theme each month.

Book Bingo display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
Book Bingo display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

And more:
School Monthly Newsletters
Teacher Requests
Book Lists
Book Displays in the Library
Kindergarten Round Up
After School Programs
Interactive Story Activities
School Displays in the commons area
Poetry Palooza
Silly Stories
Classroom visits to the library
Summer Reading promotion
Common Core Reading Night
School Open House
Listen: Audio Books before the holidays
Art Gallery at the library and school

Please share your collaboration stories in the comments below.

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  


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