For several years public librarians from the Evanston Public Library and District 65 have been collaborating to help develop student skills as literate citizens and library patrons. “We gear up every fall to welcome and orient new students,” says Young Adult Services Supervisor Renee Neumeier.
Sixth graders from District 65 are brought to the Main Library or to the branches and introduced to the Teen Loft and the children’s departments, and given an overview of the library catalog, Overdrive/MyMediaMall for ebooks and audiobooks, and Hoopla for streaming books, movies, comics, and music.
Students of all ages benefit from the stronger relationship between school and public librarians. They become more comfortable in the public library and raise their awareness of what activities, books, and other resources are available to them there.
Public librarians acquaint students and their teachers with available books, holding “booktalking” sessions at the schools to share ideas about what to read and authors to follow. Some of the teacher sessions are held over breakfast or lunch.
EPL offers “STEAM” kits to teachers to expand their curricula in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. Teachers can check out these kits, which contain resources such as simple electronics or Legos with motors to encourage hands-on activities in the classroom.
EPL and the District 65 middle school libraries have collaborated to plan Middle School Literature Fests. The public library hosted these events for sixth through eighth graders. Working with a local bookseller these events feature author panels and breakout sessions. The first year welcomed 100 students talking to nine authors; year two increased to 140 students and 13 diverse authors.
These collaborations benefit not just the schools and libraries but the whole community. School librarians gain resources and partners who help them meet their curricular goals. Public librarians get to connect not just with the school librarians but also the teachers and students at the schools. The students see the continuation of services between the school and public library. They become more comfortable coming into the public library and become acquainted with the books, events, and materials available to them there.