By Katie Klein
As the school year wraps up and summer reading approaches, now is a perfect time to collaborate with your local school and public libraries. We all know how important it is for students to maintain reading skills during summer vacation. It’s time to reach out and work together to give kids the best summer opportunities.
For schools with summer reading expectations, providing summer reading lists to public libraries can help ensure that they have listed books on hand for students. School librarians can help facilitate the connection by reminding teachers to prepare and share lists in the spring. Having reading lists early helps public libraries purchase books before youth services departments get too busy with summer programs.
Public librarians who serve youth can contact their local schools to promote summer reading. At the elementary level, visit library classes to encourage students to participate in summer reading and get kids excited to join the public library program. A flyer or brochure should be created to send home with elementary students. Some libraries issue public library cards to students through school, which can help kids take ownership of their library and strengthen the relationship between school and library.
At the middle and high school level, librarians have to get creative to promote summer reading. Public librarians may want to visit English/Humanities classes, set up a table during lunches, or attend an end-of-the-year event to promote summer reading. School librarians can promote public library summer reading on the school website or put up posters around school. Teens often have many demands on their summer time, so public libraries may be most successful getting teen participation with evening programs or virtual reading programs that don’t require physical visits to the library. Since summer programs are usually geared toward younger children, public librarians may find volunteer or page positions at the library the best draw for teens. Especially for younger teens, the library can be an excellent first step into the workplace. School librarians can help recommend their most enthusiastic readers for page jobs at the public library.
In my neck of the woods, the April Maine Reading Round-Up conference provides a golden opportunity for school and public librarians who serve children and teens to connect. Just carpooling to the conference with my public library counterparts is one of the best ways to catch-up and plan future collaboration. We also pick up great ideas from other libraries at conference workshops, which we share on the drive home. The timing is great to re-engage collaboration in preparation for summer.
School Library Connection just hosted a webinar titled “The Perfect Equation for Summer Reading Success.” The presenters shared a ton of a great ideas for collaboration between school and public librarians to keep students reading throughout the summer. They covered topics from initial outreach, to marketing, incentives, and program ideas. They also encouraged school staff to actively participate in public library programs throughout the summer. The webinar recording is available on the SLC website. Check it out!
Katie Klein is Library Media Specialist at Lake Region High School in Maine. Katie earned her MLIS from Rutgers in 2005 and has been a YALSA member since 2006. She currently serves on the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation.