Cathy Coronado, Atchison Middle School Media Specialist
How it all began….
NEKLS Summer School Librarians Workshop in 2009, featuring Tasha Squires, author of Library Partnerships: Making Connections Between Schools and Public Libraries
The information at the workshop was great, but the best part was the driving to and from the session. Diana and Laura (new elementary librarian) and Cathy never had really talked before; Diana was the new director of the Atchison Public Library.
Building our Partnership:
- Breakfast w area school librarians (4 schools (Lutheran, Catholic private schools, and public schools). wanted to meet again but never could
- Personal visits over coffee
- Participation in MS in-service on school discipline
- Library is a block from the MS. Teen problem. No consistency in policies and discipline enforcement. Things in the library did change, but still didn’t change completely. Not just the library’s problem to solve. Library went to MS inservice on discipline. Brought back info to library staff with mixed results, but did start a conversation. Building read over a million words. Public library wanted to be a part of this.
- Meet w the school district superintendent to support the reading system: school had a courier system. Diana asked if the courier system could stop at the public library.
- Public library staff visit to all AMS reading classes to demonstrate how to place holds through the NExpress shared catalog system. If the kids didn’t have a library card and their parents wouldn’t give them a card, a building card was created so holds could still be placed.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Read in Every Child, Donalyn Miller
“Part of wearing a reader’s clothes is learning how to navigate a library and feeling at home in one” (Miller 59).
Wanted to make the middle school kids feel at home in the library.
Students Tour Atchison Public Library: All 6th, 7th, and 8th grade reading classes toured
Students learned about:
- the YA book collection, including graphic novels
- available tech like laptops, audiobooks and video games
- upcoming and ongoing teen events
- how to get their own library card
- what homework resources are available
The Process to send books to the Middle School Library
Atchison Library (already processes 80+ holds per day as part of NExpress):
- AMS has its own card to place holds and checkout (with Cathy’s permission) — has checkout out 400+ books on the AMS card since October
- Items are transferred between the school and public library through the school district courier.
The Process at AMS
- Students can place holds on books at the APL Online Catalog Station
- Students write the title of the book they want and their name on a slip of paper and deposit it in the box.
“Because so many students’ reading choices are dictated by their teachers, they never learn how to choose books for themselves. How can they shape a self-identity as a reader if they never get the chance to find out what they like?” (Miller 28)
This is all done through one card. Kids who have local cards, can place holds, but then have to pickup at the local library. Teachers are now starting to use the service as well — quick access to the public library.
AMS Process Continues
- There are in and out boxes for the books
- Each book is checked out to the student using a temporary number
- I use the code APL at the beginning of the call numbers of all the books
- I periodically check the holds and books checked out to see if they match my records
The Benefits of our relationship
- Public libraries have more funding for materials and resources
- School libraries have direct access to young readers
Public library Benefits
- Kids reading our stuff
- Cooperative collection development
- Better behavior in the library (Cathy said the library staff were her friends on the visits)
- Student volunteers
- Library board members
- Presence in community
- Teachers also visiting us more
School library Benefits
- Supplements our collection (no money for collection)
- Reference books and books written primarily for adults are available
- Provides a service to teachers who love to read
- Teachers try out classroom sets of books
- Keeps students interested in reading when they can have the book they choose
School wide competition in 2nd quarter. AR test system used as a quick test system. Word count. 100 million words goal w teachers. Teacher teams — 1 hr for lunch given to winning team.
Teachers taken out of the equation, and only kids the second time, made it to 99 million words
“Our national discussion of reading has been reduced to a talking point a measurement score. How can we get our students to open books and start reading when, in many classrooms, the focus is on test performance?” (Miller 180).
Now, drill and skill. Demoralize teachers.
Word counts of what students had read tracked by library (thanks to AR tests — just to be a check, not accuracy of test scores). Principal looked at the bottom of the words lists.Cathy plotted # of words where the person’s score was. Anyone under 100,000 words typically was not passing assessments. Lightbulb went off in principal’s head.
Practice comes from what the kids want to read. Not specific books.
We Both Agree: The most important thing is creating life long readers and future library users. Thank you!
Comments/questions from audience:
A homework pass for every 2 hrs students read. 25 teens typically participate. 170+ teens participated after the homework pass project. (Can’t remember now which library — maybe Bonner Springs??)
If you can hook that one person, it builds that relationship and can get passed onto others.
What do you do if your town’s school librarian wants nothing to do with your public library? Can you go directly to the teachers? Yes.
People are going to be more receptive to the public library-school library partnership because budgets are in bad shape.
HS/MS brings the public library books in the summer, 300-500 books per year during the summer. Teen section is tiny at public library.
At the beginning, discussed who’s responsibility is it to pay for the books? Certain loss involved. Price of doing business.
Haven’t lost many books through the sharing. Cathy’s loss rate is better than the public library. She has a captive audience
Homebound patron category that doesn’t accrue fines used at the public library to check the books out to the middle school. That’s what the school uses.
The high school students participate but not at the same level. The teachers love the library.
The private schools in Atchison also use the public library (the teachers particularly mentioned from these schools).
The students are being trained at the middle school and will hopefully take their love of reading onto the high school level.
Building a culture of reading.
“Ask for forgiveness, not permission” philosophy. Brief discussion about ages and book challenges.
I was really glad I attended this session. Diana, why is this the first I’ve heard of your successes there?? 🙂 You and Cathy need to share this success widely. And I highly recommend the book mentioned at the beginning of this post by Tasha Squires. NExpress libraries, it’s in the NEKLS collection — request it through NExpress. Other Kansas libraries not on NExpress, request through the KLC. Outside Kansas, request through your local library!