Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J Is For...


The Logan Heights Library is currently the only joint-use library of the San Diego Public Library system. We are literally surrounded by three schools and serve over 10 public, charter and private schools in our service area. Needless to say we have TONS! of students using our library regularly. As a joint-use library we offer special hours for classrooms visiting the library and priority on the usage of our computer lab and meeting rooms. We also house a curriculum collection of books the students are using in their classrooms. These books are reference copies that students can use at the library should they loose or forget their books.

We have library programs every month to meet the interest of the students and supplement their curriculum. With severe budget cuts in the schools, there is not much funding for field trips and additional programs for the classes to participate in. This is where the library has been able to step in and meet some of those needs. At our library we try to host two programs per month specifically geared towards the schools. Our programs range from music, storytelling, science, animal shows, magic shows, reading programs, class competitions, Día events, holiday themed programs, author visits and overnight library events. We are fortunate to have a large community space with a capacity of 300 people where we host many of our programs. Most of our programs reach the maximum capacity, which to me, is very telling of the need of these types of activities in the schools.

Working at a joint-use public library was something very new to me and I have to admit a bit intimidating in the beginning, but with the help of some veteran librarians and establishing connections early with some of the instructors and principals, I have been able to overcome my fear and embrace this unique working environment. I thoroughly enjoy working in a joint-use facility because it allows me to work closer with students and teachers and make more of a personal connection with them. I feel like a superstar when I walk around the community because it never fails that a student, teacher or parent will say hello or stop to chat and establishing that trust is key to serving our community.

These are some tips that helped me brave the joint-use library world:

  • Make connections early and introduce yourself to school teachers and administration.
  • Have a clear understanding of the joint-use contract and or policies.
  • Establish a teachers email list to e-blast library information and try to get as many educators on that list and at least a couple from every school.
  • Attend as many staff meetings and PTA meetings as possible to communicate or remind teachers and parents of the activities happening in the library.
  • Create special programs geared towards the schools (class competitions are always a big hit).
  • Find out what the curriculum is like in the classrooms so you can find ways to supplement it at the library.
  • Stay on top of school calendars and testing dates, this is especially useful when scheduling programs.
  • Attend school assemblies or classrooms to promote library programs to the students.
  • Advertise programs on school electronic boards or other forms of media they use for announcements.
  • Keep a detailed calendar of class visits and programs to make sure you don't overlap and can dedicate special time to each class.
  • Create an open school friendly environment that will make classes want to return to the library and make sure that library staff is aware of school activities and accessible to the students.

"Night at the Library" class competition winners!