Thursday, June 2, 2011

Promotion + Schools = Summer Reading Success

It's the end of the school year and the fun is just getting started for us youth service librarians as the countdown to Summer Reading begins. However, there are a few things to do before school is out to ensure that you have high attendance at your programs and get kids reading over the summer. Here is a check list of ways to work with your school to promote the library and Summer Reading.

Open Houses
Open Houses start as early as February (I usually miss these because I am too late), but most are in May. This is a great time to contact your school and ask to set up a table to have library materials to hand out to parents. Also, don't forget the back to school Open Houses that are usually a few weeks after the start of school. Another good time to remind families about the library.

Class Visits/Assemblies
Ask to speak to individual classes or at assemblies where you can again promote the Summer Reading. Assemblies are nice because you can talk to large groups of kids at one time. If you can get into an award assembly that is even better because parents come and you get to talk directly to the person who will be bringing the child to the library. Some librarians get very creative putting on skits during these assemblies. Anything to get the kids to remember the library! You also want to get the teachers excited about your reading program because they will promote your programs.

Send home flyers to every school age kid in your service area. This is another way to get contact with the parents. Schools will ask you to have the flyers grouped by class size and counting out flyers is a perfect job for a high school volunteer. Schools often have a cut off for the last day they will accept flyers to be sent home, so be prepared early.

After School Programs
Find out if your school's after school program will be open during the summer. Find out how you can help them (and your statistics) make a great summer for the students. I provide books and reading incentives (provided centrally by my library system) to these school sites because they often can not get to the library. To make it easier on yourself contact the coordinator of the after school program. This person will help you coordinate the filling out of paperwork and help negotiate any problems that may arise. Plus it is nice to have an extra ally in the school district.

The hardest part of working with your school is getting into the school. If you can find a teacher, principal, or librarian who will work with you, you will be set. I was fortunate to make friends with the District Librarian and thus the library techs at the individual schools. This has made getting into the schools much easier and afforded me many other contacts within the school district. Of course there are many ways to gain contact with schools and I would love new ideas, so readers please share your experience working with schools.

Posted by Anna