Got school outreach on your mind? You’re not alone. For 25 years, the Multnomah County Library School Corps team has helped students thrive in Oregon’s most populous county.
Founded in 1997, School Corps began as a way to maintain the library’s connection with youth. According to the library’s website, “the team has reached more than 83,000 students with 131,000 books, saving 8,700 hours of educator time.”
School Corps, which currently consists of a team of three staff, provides a menu of programs and services to K-12 schools. Many of these programs and services existed during its inception but have adapted with the times. Sample menu items include:
- Buckets of Books: 24-30 books on a topic plus a teacher’s guide
- Assignment alert: discover a new booklist, collection, or list of websites
- Presentations: covering a multitude of topics and library resources
In honor of School Corps’ milestone and the start of a new school year, School Corps Librarians Tanya Belmont and Jackie Partch provide insight into the successful program.
For those wishing to forge stronger connections with local schools, whether you have one staff member or a whole team, Tanya and Jackie suggest the following:
- Give schools a menu of options. This way they’ll know the full range of services the library offers–and those you don’t!
- All you need is one person. One teacher/administrator/librarian can help spread the word to others–including other schools.
- Keep it patron-driven. Seek out an invitation rather than trying to force your way into schools. Listen to what schools are asking for.
- Connections matter. When possible, a personal introduction from someone who already has a connection can go a long way. Cold emailing is also an option to get your foot in the door.
- Prioritize. You can’t be everywhere. Some services are for all schools and some are just for the schools that need them most.
Whether you’re new to outreach or not, don’t give up! Tanya shared a story about a Pura Belpré award presentation she developed for School Corps that initially didn’t get a lot of requests. This year, she can’t keep up with demand! As one student said after one such presentation (which included playing Selena’s music): “This was the best library day ever.”
Congratulations, School Corps! Here’s to 25 more years of the best library days ever!
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services, III. Programming Skills, and V. Outreach and Advocacy.
This blog post was written on behalf of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee by Alec B. Chunn. Alec is a youth librarian at Multnomah County Library and a member of the School-Age Programs & Services Committee.