One of the outcomes for my branches requires me to partner with local schools in some way. This is something that could potentially be very time consuming for me as a single librarian serving two communities. I’ve made a strategic choice in deciding that my primary branch will offer more services to schools than my secondary one where I only spend one day a week. Ideally, I would love to treat both equally, but realistically, scheduling tours and offering even passive programs in a small branch where there’s typically only one person (and short hours) is too demanding on me and my team. Instead, my secondary branch will partner with local schools by helping media specialists with their goals and projects.
For now, I’m highlighting one way that I’ve begun working on this. When I was first hired, almost 10 months ago, one of the ways that I tried getting to know my communities was by visiting some of my local media specialists. I’m so glad I did this because many of them have been working in the towns for many years and they’re embedded in the kids’ lives in a way that I’m not likely to ever be. They were able to tell me about the population and the diversity among families. They opened up to me and invited me to the schools to promote the public library. They bounced around ideas with me. It was great!
No one was more amazing to me than a lady I will be calling Mrs. Goose. She worked at an elementary school in my secondary community that’s within walking distance of the library. I don’t know a lot about the way school budgets work, but it puzzles me that in the same system, some schools get their budgets cut and struggle for resources while others have everything they need. Hers is one that’s suffered some tremendous cuts. The town itself is on an economic downturn so you get the feeling that everyone there is working too hard to make ends meet. Mrs. Goose is no different. When I visit her, she’s always going as fast as she can and the result is a very vibrant presence in her kids’ lives. She runs her own summer reading program wherein she opens the library one day every week and then takes a bookmobile around to mobile home parks as well. She had 127 kids signed up and visited 3 neighborhoods over the summer. For reference, that’s twice as many kids as we signed up at the public library. She’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.
When I visited her last week to talk about some ways that I might be able to help her, she knew just what she needed. She led me into a storage closet where I saw this.
As she explained to me, her AIG kids are slipping in their grades because they don’t have enough to challenge them. This is her answer to that need. Most of what you see was given to her as donations or purchased with her own money. Zero grant dollars are going into this.
So as we talked more about her dreams for this space, I realized there are a few ways I can help her.
- She needs help gathering more materials.
- She needs volunteers to help her sort and organize it all.
- She could use more books on specific topics for guidance on crafting
- She needs a way to introduce more technology
So my answers were clear to me.
First, I’d help lead a donations drive in the library. Hopefully while talking with people about this project, I may be able to interest someone in helping her organize, too.
Then, I create a special library card and send her books according to a schedule of topics the kids will be exploring.
Finally, I will do my best to bring iPads loaded with Minecraft for the kids on days when I can be there to deliver and pick them up. (I’m working on getting permission to do this. For obvious reasons, it’s scary to leave kids with library iPads.)
And this is how a really fun relationship will be formed. I’m so excited about this prospect that I can barely contain myself.
Also, I just have to share one more thing to further demonstrate this woman’s genius.
I think I love her.