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August 20, 2014

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I’m Sending You to the Public Library!

By Phil Goerner, teacher librarian, Silver Creek High School, Longmont CO, and Krista Brakhage, teacher-librarian, Poudre High School, Fort Collins CO

School was winding down for the year when a fellow librarian heard the alarm go off in her school library. After she examined the young lady’s backpack, she discovered three library books! “I’m not finished with them yet,” the girl claimed, but the books weren’t checked out. The student then had to explain why she ripped the barcode off and destroyed the spine label. She was desperate.

Students are desperate to get books at the end of the school year. That is why we must ignite in our readers a passion and appreciation for their public library and provide an easy transition from their school library to those wonderful public libraries just across town. There are lots of folks who forget the multitude of resources at their fingertips, ones we can access from the comfort of our own homes.

There is a plethora of online resources like e-books, audio books, movies and even downloadable music at libraries. Our students (and many teachers) need to know about these!

We need to embark on mini-campaigns at the end of the year to teach folks how to unlock the treasure of resources at their local library. It’s not always an easy task and one you should practice for with the various devices in order to teach the wizardry of downloading to your patrons. We need to teach them how to download on their Kindle (or Kindle app!), Nook, ePub book, PDF or audiobook by navigating to their local library’s ebook or audiobook page. Using our library ninja skills, we then need to help them check out, download or transfer those items to their own devices.

I was amazed when I surveyed many of the adults in my school building to find they don’t even have a library card! YIKES! Yet the number of my folks that have tablets, smart phones and computers is huge and they need our help to unlock the power of their instruments. We need to get folks to collect as many library cards as they can carry, to shop for their favorites and never let “on hold” be a barrier as they pursue the multitude of resources available to them!

Public librarians and school librarians should see themselves as co-conspirators in this adventure. School librarians need to be enthusiastic proponents of our public libraries across town. Who said librarians can’t take field trips? Collaborate with your teen reading and literature classes and set up a tour at the public library to ignite their excitement in reading—and make sure everybody walks out with a shiny new library card and books! Too late this spring? Plan now for a table for the public library at Back to School Night or parent teacher conferences in the fall. Invite your brilliant colleagues to share in the planning of your monthly book clubs.

Kids who crave books should not have to wait until next fall for them. Help connect schools to our fabulous public library programs now and show them that the reading fun never ends!

(Editor’s note: see It Takes Two from the May 1 issue of School Library Journal featuring our first public library spending survey which speaks to the need for greater collaboration between school and public libraries.)

This article originally appeared in School Library Journal‘s enewsletter SLJTeen. Subscribe here.

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