My library is currently serving 16 Child Care Centers on a bimonthly basis and are hoping to start reaching our children and their families in a new way. We are working on a program where we provide storytimes, early literacy workshops and play programs at a housing community in our service area. We would ideally provide a small collection of gift and donation books that can be used by the community
I reached out to a fellow librarian who has done some community based outreach to ask a few questions.
Me: Describe your program including population served and services provided.
Cammy: STAR (Summertime Access to Reading) was created by School Board Chairwoman, Carrie Coyner. Little Free Libraries (LFL) were planted all over the county and filled with books to insure that children within neighborhoods have constant access to books. Each LFL also had community events through the summer. My library system became involved by offering a free training to the volunteers including tips for Readers Advisory, ideas for activities- like storytimes and information on summer slide and literacy.
I helped by presenting at the training and also sponsored a LFL through a professional organization I was a part of.
Me: Describe the need in your community that led you to develop this program.
Cammy: Seventeen elementary schools were identified that had the highest poverty population and the goal was to have LFLs planted in three neighborhoods in the districts of those schools.
Me: Do you have any advice for someone starting a similar program?
Cammy: Make sure to develop community partnerships! Partnerships help make sure that resources are being properly used and doesn’t put too much strain on a single organization.
Also, when reaching out to the neighborhoods, find out if there’s a way to communicate to residents- if by email, social media or through a “resident portal”. Develop digital advertising to share with the residents when your event is taking place then send out a reminder email. Don’t forget to ask permission from the manager or the association to put up signs to promote the event.
Erin Lovelace and Cammy Koch are both Children’s Librarians in Virginia. Erin is a member of the Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee.