Friday, December 16, 2016

Every Child a Library Card!

LPL is in the midst of gearing up to get every child in the school district a library card this month as one of the major goals in our recent strategic plan.

I thought you all might like to hear what exactly that means for us, how we did it, how we WISH it would have gone and what we'd like to do to grow and expand in the future.

So.  First things first.

Some of you may be familiar with our Sneakers and Stars programs.  Brooke blogs about it here.  That program was working great to improve the number of kindergartners and second graders who have library cards and who visit and use the library.

But our above mentioned strategic plan set the lofty goal of getting every child in the city a library card.  Since we already had a good relationship with our school media specialists and the superintendent is on our Board, we decided to make a push for a more complete partnership.

Our first step was to add a library card application to the school registration packet.  This means that every incoming student, whether a kindergartner or a new student to the district, would see a public library card application in their packet.

The next, and most time intensive step was to do a massive library card drive with the district.  We printed more than 6,000 library card applications for a special "Limited Edition" card.  We created a packet of applications for each classroom in the district, topped by an application for a classroom card for the teacher.  These have now been delivered to all of the schools.  The card packets will be returned here, where we will create cards for each child and deliver them back to the schools.  Once the cards are in the hands of students, they can check out up to five items at a time.  If they come in with a parent or guardian at any time, they can have their account upgraded to full access.

The Positive

The school is on board!  They were excited to partner on this and everyone I spoke to agreed we are all on the same team and promoting literacy and learning together is a huge plus.

We got all of our staff on board--even the ones who were worried about things like accountability, patrons taking advantage of the system, children who live outside our community getting cards, etc.

This gave me more fodder for my fine free arguments.  Part of the reluctance of families--especially those living in poverty--to getting cards is the worry of fines and fees.  Because of this, I was able to make Read Away Your Fines an ongoing program that kids can access anytime.

It gave us another reason to update and enhance our Teacher cards.  We now offer those completely fine free, and encourage teachers to supplement their classroom and their lesson plans with our materials.

The Not-So-Positive

My hope was that we would get hundreds of applications back as we finished the first round and that everyone in circulation would hate me for the loads of extra work.  Sadly, I am once again betrayed by my eternal optimism.  Of our first thousand drop offs, we have received back 59.

But!  We are not defeated.  We will continue publicizing the program and moving toward this goal of every child with a library card.  We are thinking of doing a drawing or some other incentive for return as well.

Have any of you tried this?  Successes or failures you'd like to share?  Let us know!

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