Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

Rethinking Summer Reading Class Visits

Summer Reading is almost here and for many public library workers, has been in the works for months and months. Many of us are visiting schools right now promoting programs that have taken an immense amount of planning. Maybe we’re soaking in the infectious energies of classes where every student is convinced they’ll be the one to win this year’s grand prize. Or maybe we’re wondering why we overcommitted yet again and took on a bit more than we could chew. Whatever your situation, you’re in good company. Summer reading can be both fun AND stressful–and that’s ok!

If learning how to do school outreach effectively was part of my library school curriculum, enough time has passed now that I don’t really remember it. Most of my on-the-job learning came from coworkers or blogs–including this one! Here are some good places to start whether you’re sending up an SOS or just need a refresh:

With capacity constraints, we can never do it all. My personal goal has been to find that sweet spot between being busy without always being at my absolute limit. When it comes to class visits and outreach, here are the factors I like to consider:

  • How can I prioritize schools based on need?
  • Are there ways I can maximize impact? (e.g. visiting specific grades)
  • Who is most likely to engage with Summer Reading vs. who is least likely to engage with Summer Reading?
  • How can I consult with school library staff to help make decisions about what is a priority for their school?
  • Is an assembly or single class visit most effective?
  • How can I build capacity for more visits by taking something off my plate temporarily? (e.g. taking a storytime break)

While I wish I’d had the foresight to write this post before I was already doing school visits, I think there’s never a wrong time to be reflective and plan for a better future.

What is working for you now and what are you already thinking you might change next year? (Something I’m already inspired by is this post from the Urban Libraries Council.)

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, 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.

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