Now, more than ever before, collaboration between public and school librarians is critical. As we strive to be at the center of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in our schools, strong relationships with our local public librarians can make all the difference in the world and provide us, our students, and our school colleagues with tremendous advantages.
While public and school libraries differ, our common patron base of children gives both groups fertile ground for growing ever stronger collaborative bonds. The extent to which school libraries can contribute to the creation of lifelong public library patrons should not be underestimated. Nor should we ever underestimate the extent to which public librarians can reinforce and support our work and our kids’ learning well beyond the school day.
The more people are directly and deliberately involved in the implementation of the CCSS, the more likely it is that it will succeed. All too often, however, collaboration between different types of libraries is too passive. Largely, public librarians have “picked up” where school librarians “leave off.” After school hours and during vacations, we “hand off” our students to the public libraries. While this arrangement has met with varying degrees of success (based largely on the disparate efforts of individual public and school librarians), the Common Core demands a more seamless and systematic integration of services to youth. As with anything pertaining to these new standards, heavy lifting must be done.
If we are committed to having our students succeed in achieving the Common Core, school librarians must help public library colleagues get up to speed on the new standards. We should share with them the changes we are facing, and brainstorm how that may impact their work directly. Ideally, they will not discover the CCSS by accident or on the fly—when one of our students is standing in front of them asking for help. Only proactive and consistent communication will lead to success.
Where to begin
The key shifts of the literacy Common Core Standards provide a strong starting point for the dialogue (see table). Envisioning how these shifts may impact and be supported by the work of public librarians will help them be better prepared for what our students and colleagues will surely need from them. It will also foster a more integrated learning experience across library environments.
To submit an On Common Core opinion piece, please contact Rebecca T. Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.