If you’re like most school librarians, you hate closing the library for the summer. Depending on your proximity to a public library, you might worry about how to keep the kids reading until school starts again. Reminding your students about the materials always available at the public library and the special summer events can do much to stem the summer slide.
Publicize the bookmobile routes! If you are in a large, rural district, this might be your best chance to connect students with books. Putting those stops and days and times on bookmarks is an easy reminder.
Embrace cross-branding. Shoehorn your end-of-the-year displays with your public library’s summer reading theme. If they are participating in the Collaborative Summer Library Program/, ask for some of the reading logs and other swag they can order to get the ball rolling with your students. This year’s theme is superheroes, last year’s was STEM, so both of those worked well with schools.
Link, link, link. Does your public library have a calendar of events related to Summer Reading on their website? Post it on your site.
While you’re online checking out their programming, has your public library’s summer reading program shifted online? At Emmett O’Neal Library in Mountain Brook, Alabama, youth services librarians found that many tweens and teens left town and recreated many of their events online. In a case like that, you might be able to sign kids up (boosting your public library’s participation numbers and easing your conscience about leaving your students without access to books!) at school.
Does your public library feature any big events with performers? What about hands-on workshops? Get your public librarians to come and talk it up. Sometimes a fresh face can be very persuasive.
Are you in an independent school where students come from a range of different communities with their own public libraries? Adopt a “more the merrier” role in publicizing programs tied to summer reading. Most public libraries will welcome more bodies at their events.
So, until all libraries have funding to remain open during the summer, point your students to the next-best source for reading material and learning activities. And one caveat: always discuss the public library’s overdue policies and procedures with your students, especially if they are more punitive than your school ones.
Wendy Stephens is a member of the interdivisional AASL/ALSC/YALSA Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.
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Author: Wendy Stephens