Blogger AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): A Successful Partnership Can Begin with Summer Reading

Through school-public library collaboration, librarians can co-design successful summer reading programs that help prevent summer reading loss. The goal of a national nonprofit called the Collaborative Summer Library Program, or CSLP, is to support public libraries with high-quality summer reading materials for all age groups at the lowest possible cost. Experienced librarian volunteers help CLSP provide member libraries with a summer reading kit in English and in Spanish.

In Oracle, Arizona, public library volunteer director Pauly Skiba identified a pressing need for collaboration with the public school in her community. Oracle Public is an all-volunteer rural library thirty miles north of Tucson. Pauly, a retired classroom teacher, realized that although the library did an excellent job serving preschool and adult community members, few school-age children and teens used library resources—school-age programs and the summer reading program were not well attended.

One day, Pauly was helping a 7th-grade girl do her National Honor Society volunteer hours when she learned that students were not being encouraged to use the public library because of a perceived conflict with the school’s accelerated reading program. Pauline reached out to Darlene Cavanaugh, Mountain Vista K-8 school librarian, who is also a reading specialist. After their conversation, the two agreed to work together on a summer reading program at the school site.
Around the same time, Donna Throckmorton. library services consultant for the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, visited the Oracle Public. Donna and Pauline discussed the CSLP summer reading program. They decided that if the school-age children couldn’t come to the public library, “then the library will go to the kids.” Pauline created a public library card for the Oracle School District. Last summer, when she took books to the school library, the school librarian and students were delighted to have some new books to read and thus began a great relationship between the public and school libraries.

The public library-school library collaborative program involved one-hundred forty children from preschool through 8th grade in the summer of 2016. The school teachers were excited about the summer reading program theme “On Your Mark, Get Set… READ!” The teachers said the theme made it easier to motivate students. Volunteers from the Oracle Public supported the program by offering art lessons, teaching origami, and demonstrating Tae Kwan Do. At the end of the program, Oracle Public donated 75 books on different sports to the school library, which has a very small book budget.

Pauly reports that the relationship between the Oracle Public Library, school librarian Darlene, and the school is stronger than ever. Now when the public library withdraws books, Pauly saves the best ones and takes them over to the school. Says Pauly, “I get hugs from everyone—kids, the school librarian and teachers alike. And they ask ‘What did I bring today?’”

It’s not too soon! Reach out to librarian colleagues in your community. Together, review the resources offered by CSLP to determine how these materials can help you serve children and youth during the summer (and throughout the year). When school and public librarians collaborate for literacy, everyone benefits.


Mraz, Maryann, and Timothy V. Rasinski. “Summer Reading Loss.”

Poster Image Copyrighted by CSLP, Used with Permission.

Judi Moreillon is a literacies and libraries consultant, former school librarian, and retired librarian educator. She tweets @CactusWoman and blogs at Building a Culture of Collaboration. She is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation and the chair of AASL’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy Task Force.

One comment

  1. Judi Moreillon

    Thank you, Anna, for posting my piece to the ALSC Blog.

    What impressed me most about this school-public library collaboration for summer reading was that Pauly Skiba from Oracle Public Library recognized the problem of students being unable to get to the public library in the summer. Pauly solved the problem by collaborating with school librarian Darlene Cavanaugh to bring the public library’s summer reading program where the students were – in summer school at Mountain Vista K-8 School.

    This is an outstanding example of embedding public library services in the community. Brava to Pauly and Darlene for their exemplary summer reading (and beyond) collaboration.

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