I attended a CAL session called:
School Liaisons - Building A Partnership Between A Public Library and A School District
Presenter: Priscilla Queen, Douglas County Libraries
This was a very good boost for me as ALD has been trying to build relationships with schools for many years.
November 2008 the bond issues on the ballot for the Douglas County Schools and for the Douglas County Libraries failed. That crisis sent the schools and the public libraries looking for ways to make the most of the money each had. Priscilla Queen the Literacy Specialist at DCPL and Patrick, a technical services person with the Douglas County schools began meeting to find out how a partnership would be beneficial for each of their institutions.
After getting input by teachers and school personnel, they worked together to identify the most needed databases. At first the vendors insisted that the schools and the public library should each have their own licenses. But when Priscilla and Patrick explained close cooperation between the school and the library was essential, most companies were happy to have them as a single customer.
The school district was eventually able to connect directly to the IP addresses of all the library public computers . When the kids were working at school, they did not even need to use their library card barcodes to access the public library databases.
Priscilla assigned a librarian or paraprofessional at each branch to be the Library Liaison to each school in the Douglas County system. They received training and suggestions as to ways to contact people in their schools, and what they should bring to the attention of the school personnel. A monthly contact with the school through phone or email was the starting point. This was an excellent opportunity to remind students and teachers of the Homework Help connections available to students through the library website.
She also saw this as a great opportunity to refresh the call for Assignment Alerts from teachers so libraries could learn of assignments before the kids did and better serve the students. A direct email connection between the school and the Library Liaison made this easier for the teachers.
Priscilla already had a volunteer group she was working with called Spellbinders who told stories to groups at the libraries and schools. Now their visits can be set up through the Library Liaisons in each branch.
Many more advantages were realized by both the schools and the libraries once an individual from each institution was cooperating to mutual advantage. They see no end to the benefits that will be forthcoming.I sat next to a friend who is the Librarian at Lois Lenski Elementary School in the Littleton Public Schools. She has been working with librarians at Koelbel Library for many years. She got quite excited about the progress reported by Patrick and Priscilla and said she is now in a position to facilitate a better partnership with the Arapahoe Library District for LPS.
She asked who she should contact in the Arapahoe Library District to see how to strengthen and formalize the school outreach relationship. I told her that I would get back to her with the name of a person she can contact in ALD. I still am not sure exactly who that will be.
Virginia Brace, Youth Services Librarian