Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Meeting Your Patrons Where They Are

By:  Christa Cordrey, Librarian at Pearl Cohn High School

One of my goals at Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School this year was to really find a way to reach as many students as possible. I don’t want to hide away in my library and wait for students and teachers to come to me – I want to reach them where they are! I could see right away that hardest group to reach was going to be the freshmen. The way their schedule came together, the freshmen didn’t really have any set time(s) where they could come to the library! I just couldn’t stand the possibility of good readers falling away because of lack of access. So, once per week, I do Library @ Lunch for the Freshmen Academy!

The Library @ Lunch program is super simple. All I do is load up a cart of books, movies, etc. and take it down to the lunch room during the freshmen lunch time. I bring along a laptop with my circulation system pulled up and – instant checkout station! On days when I have a student worker during that period, I take her down to the cafeteria with me. While she handles the checkout station, I roam around the cafeteria and encourage checkouts/returns as well as talk to students about what they are reading and watching. After the first week, I was able to get a better idea of what students enjoyed reading/watching, and now I am able to customize the cart a little better. It wasn’t an instant hit, but any access is better than no access. I usually average between 15-20 transactions during the 30 minute lunch period, though some days are better than others.

As I move into the future, I now have teachers asking if I can do the same things for their classrooms. They want me to pack up part of the library and bring it to them on a regular basis, so that they don’t have to make transitions across the building. And you know what? I think I would be happy to do that… because I truly believe today’s libraries aren’t about “space” but about meeting needs at the point of need… meeting the patrons where they are!

Blogger:  Christa Cordrey @LibrarianC1
Pearl Cohn High School
Technology Chair, TN Association of School Librarians

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