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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some libraries have a great relationship with their schools, and lots of collaboration and cooperation happens. Other libraries are frustrated that teachers don't seem to understand what the library can offer, and struggle to get a foothold, even to promote summer reading programs. Here are some terrific suggestions from around the country! If you have more ideas, post them in comments.

Marketing to Schools - a thread from ALA's PRTalk Listserv, compiled by Martha Gammons and published in the Arrowhead Library System's Monday Memo (7/25/11)

From Mount Prospect Public Library A good way to get the word out to teachers is to go to their first (or one of the first) staff meetings of the year for each school. I always stress to the principals when I schedule it that I just need 5-10 min. to go over the services that the library offers to teachers.

A good way to connect with both teachers and students at the schools is to attend events like Opens Houses or Family Reading/Technology Nights. I bring our MPPL banner to attach to a table that I sit at and I bring tons of our programming brochures, bibliographies, and giveaways with the library's contact info on it such as magnets, pens, bookmarks, etc.

Nashua Public Library: We go to new teacher orientation meetings in August. We issue free library cards to the teachers and talk to them for a few minutes about our online homework help, databases, and other services. We have a special brochure, Services for Educators, noting that we offer school visits to issue library cards, inservice database training, free computer classes, story hours at their site or ours, etc. New teachers are so enthusiastic and love having us there.

Occasionally we ask to have a brief story included in the district newsletter, which has 8000 subscribers (parents and teachers). I try to limit the request to a reminder about our Live Homework Help service at the beginning of the year, and a reminder about the summer reading programs at the end of the year. They've always been willing to do it.

Roanoke Public Library: In the past, I have found it easier to connect with the school librarians than the teachers. When I was a children’s librarian, I used to attend all the monthly staff meetings for school librarians in the district. I used to push the databases and such during our Summer Reading presentations at the school, too.

I would also volunteer to help with regular school events, even if they had nothing to do with libraries. The key to developing a successful relationship with local schools is to form connections there. Any time I had an opportunity to get into the schools – even briefly – I took it, so that everyone there would get to know and trust me.

Have you tried asking the school if they would send home an information sheet on the public library in their weekly student packets? They usually have strict rules about that, but we have found that it is our best source of advertising.

Kenton County Public Library: We’re doing something a bit different this year and specifically targeting kindergarteners. We had some money left at the end of our budget so I decided it would be fun to try to give each kindergartener a kindergarten kit. We used the money to buy pencil pouches, pencil sharpeners, erasers and pencils that we had customized with our library info (we had pencils prior to this). Our children’s staff pulled together a 50 book list which we put in there also. We created a voucher that invites kids to bring it into the library for a free book. We printed our library card application on a different color stock and put it in the bag so we can track how many are brought in. We also put in our general information brochure.
In all we pulled from a lot of the things we already had. We figured that the kindergarten kit cost around $2/kid, $3 if they come in to get the book. We’re going to distribute them in late August, early September and see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Websites and Stories

More great websites for kidsALSC has added 16 more recommended websites to Great Web Sites for Kids, its online resource containing hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children. The site features links to websites of interest to children 14 years of age and younger, organized into diverse subject headings. I like this site, and find it pretty useful when I'm looking for sites that are already vetted by thoughtful people.

For the younger set: Get some great ideas about things to expand storytimes to include storytelling, puppetry, and other ways to extend the story. Wow, some super ideas here (including a fantastic idea for a summer library program promotion). Take a peek at this newish blog: http://btbstorytimes.blogspot.com/.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rave Reviews

Colfax is doing a terrific job of keeping the public informed about their summer reading program's successes through their blog. This is a fun way to let people know what you are doing! The blog this summer is devoted to the excitement with the Summer Library Program.

Here's what I found out when I read their blog:

They really enjoyed having Kevin McMullin, storyteller and musician. They made the wise choice to cram everyone into their tiny library last week, rather than subject everyone to the incredible heat. Crowded or not, it looks like Kevin kept them engaged, and Jenny highly recommends him. I've heard from many librarians that Kevin is not only talented and engaging, he's also a heck of a nice guy and easy to work with (and even though he's a friend of mine, I'm only reporting on the facts, here).
They also had fun outdoors (in more temperate weather) with the Wonder Weavers storytelling and puppetry. Always a fun choice, the Wonder Weavers have been featured on our blog before, when other happy librarians have sent in photos!

Check out that blog, and you'll find a review written by a teen, adventures with candy sushi, and much more!