Summary of Shawn Brommer’s presentation on library outreach to the SCLS Board of Trustees
Monday, August 9, 2010

Background information:  this presentation was based on a presentation given at the American Library Association’s Annual Meeting, Washington DC, Saturday, June 26, 2010 – the ALA presentation is posted at:   

The intent of the ALA session was to help participants: “Learn practical ways to forge rewarding library/community alliances with limited resources of time and money.  Hear a range of real-world examples, discuss suggested tools,  and receive program take-aways.  The Kids! @ your library® online toolkit is just one of many resources that will be explored.  Find out what simple measures you can take to economically and efficiently collaborate with other agencies to better serve the entire community.”

Benefits of quality public library outreach programs:

·         Libraries reach underserved populations

·         Libraries create quality literacy programs that improve the lives of all community members

·         Outreach programs provide advocacy and publicity opportunities

·         Outreach programs build long-lasting partnerships with community agencies

Summaries of outreach programs discussed in presentation


·         Example of adult literacy program that uses children’s books to address parenting and literacy skills; participants read picture books and then discuss and write about relevant themes in the literature. 

·         Programs are held at parent resource centers, community centers, literacy councils, detention centers and correctional institutions

·         Facilitators attend 4-day training sessions (training was brought to WI by the WI Humanities Council)

·         Research (pre- and post-comprehension tests) show that the literacy rates of participants improved in as little as 6 – 8 weeks

·         Shawn Brommer and the current director of the WI Humanities Council conducted Fatheread programs at Oakhill Correctional Institution, 2004 – 2005.  Anecdotes from the incarcerated fathers include:

o   I never thought that books, reading, libraries and book discussion groups were for people like me

o   I now feel comfortable reading with/to my children

o   I now feel comfortable talking to my children about developmental issues

o   I feel like I can include some of the parenting techniques we discussed in the book discussion groups with issues involving my own families

Reach Out and Read

·         Example of a family literacy program

·         Public libraries work with pediatricians, pediatric staff, public health clinics and other medical staff to talk to parents about the importance of reading to young children; clinic staff give books to families at the end of well-baby check ups

·         South Madison Branch of the Madison Public Library (Ruth Sias) and Nekoosa (Darla Allen) in Wood County are working with local doctors; they conduct story times in clinic waiting rooms, suggest quality books for families, and provide information about public library services for young children and their families

·         Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician at the UW Children’s Hospital in Madison, is nationally recognized for his commitment to this outreach program and has been an outstanding partner in helping SCLS librarians learn more about Reach Out and Read

·         We plan on sponsoring a System workshop that will help other SCLS libraries partner with local clinics to provide Reach Out and Read programs in their communities


Outreach to Juvenile Detention Centers

·         Focused on the outreach programs provided by Mary Driscoll, Dane County Library Service

·         Mary has worked with the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center for years and has created a great partnership with this agency.   Examples of Mary’s outreach programs to incarcerated teens include:

o   Book discussion groups

o   Homework help groups

o   Opportunities for teens to express their creativity through writing, poetry and media (some of the creative writing will be posted to a web site of a national program, Global Kids)

o   Purchasing high interest/low reading level books for the Detention Center

o   Pairing audio and print versions of books to assist teens working on improving their literacy skills

o   Whenever possible, Mary meets with the teens to gather their input on new programs, services and materials


Think Outside the Book

·         A book discussion program for middle-school students, teens and parents created by Shawn Brommer (SCLS), Jessica Becker (WI Humanities Council), and Sandra Bonnici-Hoercherl (Madison Children’s Museum)

·         Focus is on encouraging participants to explore themes of civic engagement and responsibilities, democratic principles and community involvement.   The ultimate goal is to empower participants to be active participants in community and our country’s democracy.

·         Book titles:

o   Nim & the War Effort by Milly Lee (theme: Citizenship)

o   Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (theme: Community & Active Citizenry)

o   Nothing But the Truth by Avi (theme: Media Literacy)

o   Children’s Story by James Clavell (theme: Importance of Symbol & Ritual in a Democracy)

·         Programs were held at public libraries, afterschool clubs, boys & girls clubs, teen resource centers, Girls Inc.

·         Program elements: 20 copies of each book were purchased in 2003.  These books are housed in the SCLS program collection and all SCLS member libraries are welcome to borrow the books for programs in their communities.  These books were purchased thanks to a grant from the Empty Stocking Club Foundation (Cap Times) in 2003.

Book vs. The Movie

·         Library outreach program sponsored by the Madison Public Library (Jesse Vieau, Youth Services Librarian) and the Goodman Community Center

·         Every other month the group of participating teens chooses a book to read that’s movie counterpart is just coming out in theaters or has already been released on DVD.  Teens read the book, see the movie, and gather to discuss the differences between the book and the film.

·         Examples of books/movies include:

o   Alice in Wonderland

o   Push (novel) and Precious (Film)

o   Public Enemies

o   Lovely Bones

·         See the Official FaceBook Page to learn more about what teens are saying about the program


Reel to Real

·         Example of a program that was created here in SCLS that has expanded statewide

·         Working with WI Public Television (Lynne Blinkenberg, director of Community Outreach), SCLS created viewing and discussion programs that are held in public libraries, community centers, YMCAs, caregiver support groups, and with other community groups.

·         Program description: Reel to Real helps libraries host public screenings of critically acclaimed PBS documentaries, followed by audience discussions with local experts. Libraries can choose from an array of films addressing a wide range of topics, including race and diversity, social justice, health care, history, the arts, education and civic engagement—some of the most critical issues facing communities in Wisconsin today.

·         WPT provides copies of DVDs, discussion guidelines, discussion facilitation training and frequently grant dollars to help libraries sponsor these programs

Coming full circle – seeing a return on our outreach efforts

·         Our program and community partners reach out to us and contact us when they need to reach a shared audience, reach a shared goal

o   A great example is our partnership with WI Public Television – they now write grants with the needs of public libraries in mind and they often provide program funds for libraries who sponsor discussion programs based on films & documentaries that air on WPT

·         Mobile units from community agencies with shared goals, such as the Mobile Mammogram Units and Baby Brain Development Buses park at libraries as a way to reach a shared target audience

·         Working with one community partner or creating one outreach program often leads to opportunities for new partnerships, new programs and sometimes additional funds


Contact Information

General Information
Shawn Brommer, Youth Services & Outreach Consultant
South Central Library System  Madison, WI


Reach Out and Read

Dane County Juvenile Detention Center Outreach:
Mary Driscoll, Outreach Librarian
Dane County Library Service  Madison, WI

Think Outside the Book

Book Vs. The Movie:
Jesse Vieau, Youth Services Librarian
Madison Public Library

 Reel to Real