A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about collaboration between school and public libraries. I talked about Nashville’s Limitless Libraries and how I wished my students had access to a similar program here in Clarksville (about an hour away from Nashville). In this blog post, I am happy to report that wishes do come true!
I approached the director of our public library last February about offering my students a library card for electronic resources only. I’d won a grant to purchase Kindle Fire tablets and wanted the students to be able to download e-books that I knew our state provided through the public library system. She was open to the idea and created a permission form for the students that required a parent or guardian’s signature. One of the elementary school librarians also worked at the public library, and she agreed to serve as a go-between, taking the forms to the library and delivering the cards to the school.
When school resumed in August, the library director approached our director of schools about taking the program district-wide. One of the biggest hurdles was working out the logistics of getting the forms and cards back and forth between the libraries. We solved that problem adding the public library to the district’s courier route. The librarians at each school helped by announcing the program to their students and teachers.
Some schools have added the paperwork to their enrollment packet so new students learn about the program as soon as they arrive in Clarksville. Many students who already had library cards weren’t aware of the many resources their library card provided resulting in a surge of interest in the public library’s electronic resources. The public library made great flyers to promote their e-books, audiobooks, foreign language program, databases, downloadable music, study programs, and computer classes that are available with the technology card.
I hope that by telling this story, it encourages many of you to take that first step towards a collaborative project. Now that we have our current system in place, I can begin work on expanding it by developing a plan that allows students and teachers to check out books from the public library and have them delivered to their school. School librarians, reach out to your public librarians. Public librarians, reach out to your school librarians. Together we can provide our patrons with the best resources out there.
Rebecca Jackman is School Librarian at New Providence Middle School in Clarksville, Tenn., and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.