By Mara Rosenberg
The Collaboration Toolkit published this spring highlights successful collaborations between school and public libraries. One of these programs is ONE Access in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. As outlined in the toolkit, students in participating schools use their student ID numbers, rather than a library card, to access resources of the public library. School staff may use their employee IDs to access digital resources.
ONE Access began as a collaborative project between the library system and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a district serving more than 140,000 students. In the following years individual charter and independent schools have joined ONE Access.
Creating access to resources alone, however, is insufficient to reach the goals of the program. In order to ensure success, Martha Link Yesowitch, the Educational Partnerships Manager for the library, has created presentations and handouts that may be individually tailored to the needs of various stakeholders. The library provides staff development for school personnel at the beginning of the academic year. Additionally, local branch liaisons visit schools to educate students about library resources and programming. The following examples illustrate some of the audience-specific presentations for teachers and students.
Lake Norman Charter School is a K-12 charter school located in the northern Mecklenburg County town of Huntersville. The humanities faculty of the high school were interested in the online resources that would support students as they engaged with language arts and social studies curriculum. The presentation created for this team focused on the following resources:
- Fiction and nonfiction digital collections
- Databases related to author studies and literary criticism
- Supports for academic writing
- Primary sources
- “Opposing Viewpoints” collections
- World languages and cultures
Staff development provided by the library system is not restricted to ONE Access partners. Children’s librarian, Becca Worthington, met with the faculty of Trinity Episcopal School to explore digital resources students could utilize. She highlighted databases that related specifically to current units of study in the elementary school program. Additionally, she guided teachers to classroom resources, such as films and videos, available through NC Live.
Local branch liaisons are critical partners in the ongoing collaboration. Librarians meet with students at their area schools to share information about library resources. These presentations serve a dual purpose. Like the sessions described above, information about online resources is covered. These talks, however, also highlight services, programming, and opportunities available at local branch libraries. Students learn about a select number of upcoming programs, as well as how to access the online library calendar to look for additional ones. The libraries give details about how to get a regular library card that allows patrons to check out DVDs and music CDs. In addition to academic resources, the presentations for middle and high school students also address personal information needs. For example, among the highlighted databases are Lynda.com and Teen Health and Wellness. Additionally, middle and high school students learn about the myriad volunteer opportunities, such as teen advisory boards and the VolunTeen program, available at the local branches.
School-based professional development and student-directed presentations increase engagement with library resources and student success. This partnership between the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library and area schools is a model of public library/school library collaborative practice.
Mara Rosenberg is a second-year MSLS student at UNC-Chapel Hill and an intern with the Lifelong Learning team at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library. A long-time educator, she hopes to work as a school or youth-services librarian following graduation.