July 28, 2016

Schools and the Public Library Partnering for a Library Card Drive

As my district embraced 1:1, students were encouraged to use their learning device more and more.  As a librarian, I saw this as an opportunity to teach integrated technology and blended learning.  I wanted to provide students with access to quality online resources and collections.  In Ohio, we have Infohio.  It is a wonderful electronic resource that’s available to all students within our state.  Another local facility that provides access to electronic resources and ebooks is the public library.  However, users need a library card to acquire and use any public library resource, print or electronic.  So I set out to form a partnership between my school district and my local public library.  My goal - to provide every registered student in the district a public library card.  Here are the steps we took to achieve this goal:

1 - Get all parties on board.  I took my idea to the librarians at my local public library.  They loved the idea and were thrilled to be have a partner within the school system.  Next, we met with central office administrators in my district.  Sold on a platform to help students as we they move to 1:1, they loved the idea.  

2 - Get student information.  While my district supported our cause, they were unwilling to provide the public library with student names and birthdays.  While we tried to convince them that the public library protects their patron’s identity and information in the same way the schools do, but they were unconvinced.  We asked for an opt out option for families - all students would get a library card unless a parent said no.  They didn’t like this idea either.  So we all agreed to do an opt in option - parents interested in getting a library card for their child completed an online form to provide us with the necessary information (name, birthdate, school building).  Starting in March, the online form was pushed out by CO to all parents for a few weeks straight.  It was promoted to families as a way to help their child access electronic resources for 1:1.  The online form was pushed out again for a few weeks in April and May to promote the public library’s summer reading program, since all participants now need a library card to get signed up and participate.  I wrote these promotional messages and reminder CO to put them out often.

3 - Generate mass library cards.  Week by week, the forms began rolling in and the public library staff went to work assigning library cards.  The librarians at my local library worked feverishly to issue card after card.  Personally, I got cards for almost every student in one of my buildings.  I worked with the classroom teachers to email parents for permission and submitted student info the the public library.  We told parents the students need a public library card for summer reading and to used in class to access ebooks.  Then I taught many lessons showing students how to use their library card to find and download ebooks.  

4 - Distribute library cards to students.  When the library cards were created, the public library called me to deliver them to the schools.  They’d give me a bag full of envelopes, each stuffed with a public library card and labeled with the student’s name and building.  I received permission to take an hour every few weeks to distribute the public library cards.  Some I would send to librarians in other buildings, and some I drove personally to each building.  This was no small task considering our district has 15,000 students in 22 school buildings.  

In the end, I wasn’t able to provide every registered student in my school district a public library card.  But I was able to get library cards into many student’s hands.  Hopefully these students are using these cards to participate in the reading program over the summer, and will use them to access quality online resources with their device when in school.  As a librarian, it’s a small act that makes a big impact.  

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