First Steps Toward Collaboration

by Dr. Melissa Sadorf

What do libraries and schools in rural communities have in common? They serve as a hub for all manner of support including internet, resources and activities. They connect students to learning opportunities. And they act as a connection point for gatherings of all sorts. With so much in common, doesn't it seem like a natural collaboration to have rural libraries and schools link arms to create joint programming that benefits the families that they serve? With summer coming faster than we think it will, here’s our Top Ten List on how to get the partnership up and running!

  1. Joint programming: Organize joint programming events, such as author visits, book clubs, storytelling sessions, or STEM workshops, where both the school and library staff contribute their expertise. This can enhance literacy, creativity, and learning opportunities for students.
  2. Resource sharing: Establish a system for sharing educational resources. The library can provide the school with access to books, digital resources, and educational materials, while the school can offer the library information on curriculum needs to ensure relevant resources are available to students and the community.
  3. Extended library services: Schools can extend library services to their students by setting up a mini-library or book corner in the school, where students can borrow books and explore literature during school hours. The library can help curate and replenish these collections periodically.
  4. Library orientations: Conduct library orientations for students, teachers, and parents to familiarize them with the library's resources, services, and programs. This can help students become independent learners and encourage families to utilize the library's offerings.
  5. Professional development: Collaborate on professional development opportunities for teachers and librarians. Joint workshops or training sessions can enhance their skills in areas such as literacy instruction, technology integration, or promoting reading engagement.
  6. Homework support: Libraries can offer homework support programs, where trained staff or volunteers provide assistance to students with their assignments or research. The school can encourage students to utilize these services, particularly if they lack resources or support at home.
  7. Summer reading programs: Collaborate on summer reading initiatives to prevent the "summer slide" and promote a love for reading. The library can develop engaging reading challenges, provide access to books, and reward students for their achievements. The school can support and promote these programs among students and families.
  8. Digital access: Work together to improve digital access in the community. The library can provide Wi-Fi access to students after school hours, while the school can help identify students in need of devices or support in bridging the digital divide.
  9. Community events: Plan community events that blend education and entertainment. For example, a joint book fair, literacy festival, or science fair can be organized, bringing together students, families, teachers, and community members to celebrate learning.
  10. Parent involvement: Collaborate to enhance parent involvement and engagement in education. Libraries can provide resources, workshops, or support groups for parents on topics such as early literacy, college readiness, or digital citizenship. The school can encourage parents to participate and communicate the availability of these resources.

What are some of your ideas?  What has and hasn’t worked for your team?  We would love to hear your thoughts!