Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to begin planning school visits to promote the Summer Library Program. We hope that your school visits are successful and provide these tips for working with schools:
- Begin making your connections early in the spring. Call the principals/school media specialists in your district in March and ask them to schedule time to talk to students about the summer library program before the end of the school year. School visits can be scheduled late April – early June. In some schools public librarians visit specific grades; in others we speak to large assemblies or even travel from classroom to classroom. Work with the contact at your school to determine what works best for your situation. The visits do not need to be long or take too much time away from classroom instruction. In fact, the shorter and more memorable, the better!
- In addition to calling schools, consider sending a query letter with a form that schools return to you to schedule school visits. Susan Santner, formerly at the Sun Prairie Public Library, sent this form to her schools. Shawn Brommer and Susan Santner created a letter that you are welcome to tailor for your needs and send to your area schools.
- Contact the school media specialists in your district at least two weeks before your visit to confirm your program. Confirm equipment needs, such as a television with DVD player or DVD projection unit, at this time.
- Arrive at the school with plenty of time to go to the office, sign in, ask for a map of the building (if needed), introduce yourself, get a visitor’s pass (if needed) and determine the location of your first presentation.
- School time is different than library time! You will have to adjust to your schools’ schedules. This means that you might spend some time waiting for your presentation to begin and other times you will be running from one presentation to the next. Try to make your visit as undemanding as possible. Pack power bars or fruit, throat lozenges and bottle of water in your book bag!
- Ask teachers for their summer reading lists. This helps you prepare for requests from children and parents and shows teachers that you are serious about helping kids read over the summer.
- If school visits are not possible, send a copy of the school visit DVD and ask to have it played at an assembly and made available to teachers to show to their students. Ask the school media specialist to circulate the DVD through the school.
- Provide SLP posters for school bulletin boards and flyers for children to take home.
- After your school visit, send a letter to your media specialists and principals before the end of the school year and thank them for providing the time for your visit. Remind them to send you copies of summer reading lists.
Please share your success stories with your colleagues. Let us know if something worked particularly well for your school visits this year and we’ll add your suggestions to next year’s school visit tips sheet.