Thanks in part to the Library Linx partnership program featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration toolkit, Deschutes Public Libraries (OR) have seen a significant increase in collaborative programming with area schools. One great success has been my involvement with a local high school. Eila Overcash, teacher-librarian at Summit High School, had a great brainstorm about three years ago. She wanted to attract new students to her media center as well as capitalize on the interest of the strong corps of readers she served every day. She began a weekly Brunch and Books program during the school’s lunch period; teens could drop by the library for tasty snacks, book-related craft projects or games, and connect with other students. Eila invited me to come to Brunch and Books once a month to do book talks and share library news.
This fall will mark my third year visiting Summit High. Initially I was concerned that I wouldn’t attract any interest, but I had over thirty teens drop by during my first visit, and continued to see 15-20 students with following visits. Many of these high schoolers are already familiar with me due to my frequent middle school visits. I was quite pleased to receive compliments and comments along the lines of: “We miss your book talks now that we’re in high school,” and “I read so many of the books you shared and I need more!” I love the opportunity to book talk with a small group of invested teens, versus my larger school presentations where I’m speaking to a mixed group of 100+ students at a time. This leads to greater discussion and sharing in our more intimate setting. I always leave having learned something new, whether it be a hidden gem of a book that students are loving, or a funny YouTube video to check out.
Brunch and Books is a relatively low-key program that doesn’t require an extensive budget or time commitment. Eila makes a stop at the grocery store for snacks and arranges some furniture in the library, sets out some simple signage and uses the school PA system to promote my visits, and that’s all it takes for prep work at the high school. I rely on my Goodreads account to identify titles I’ve read that I think will make for great booktalks each month. I also bring rack cards or other items that advertise the variety of services my library offers: apps for downloading media, college and career resources, and our regular schedule of teen programming. Based on this success I’m planning to try out the program in a couple of middle schools this year. Whether you’re in a school or public library, take a look at your lunch hour and see what opportunities there might be for quick and easy collaboration like Brunch and Books!
April Witteveen is a Community and Teen Services Librarian at the Deschutes (OR) Public Library, and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: II. Reference and User Services, III. Programming Skills, and V. Outreach and Advocacy.