Building a Summer Library Program partnership between a school library and a public library

Written by Amy Kline on May 31, 2016

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Are you looking for a way to stop the summer slide in reading?

Do you want a fun way to connect with parents and students? Are you interested in providing your students with books and activities during June, July and August?

A Summer Library Program that partners with the local public library may be just the right fit!

Stop the Summer Slide

The Red Smith School Library began its summer program 15 years ago to get kids to read over the summer. We are a Pre-K to 8th grade school with approximately 1,000 students that do not have bus service to the local library. A teacher and I decided to open the school library a couple hours a week so kids could continue to check out books all summer long. Over the years, the hours were extended to accommodate the summer school classes in our district, a storytime and mini makerspace activities were added. Soon the daycare down the street started coming, and families established weekly summer library trip routines.

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Sharing Small Incentives to Read Over the Summer

A few years ago, Molly Senechal, the children’s librarian at the closest public library branch and I teamed up so Red Smith could become a satellite location for the public library’s Summer Reading Program. The public library provides Red Smith small incentives, the reading record and a free book for all who complete the program. The school library provides access to books, hands out the incentive prizes, and runs activities and storytimes to bring in the kids and families.

Buiding Professional Relationships Between Libraries

Both libraries cross-advertise events. Red Smith provides the public library with our reading program data (how many kids start, how many reach each level, how many finish) in their branch numbers. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Increased Access to Books and Reading

The result has been fabulous! We regularly have over 150 students in attendance over the 5 hours we are open each week. More than 100 students complete the reading program (10 hours of reading) each year, and many of them finish by the end of June and keep coming back to our library for more books.  

Build Relationships with Parents and Students

Our circulation for the summer in 2015 was over 2,500 books, so there was a lot of reading happening. The theme days are a hit with lots of crafts and activities to try out for all ages. Examples of activities have included LED Minecraft blocks, Augmented Reality coloring pages, crayon making, Harry Potter wands, marble run creations, Lego contraptions, and handmade super hero masks.

Parents and their children work together to create and share in the open ended “makerspaces." It has become a great way for me to get to connect with the students and their parents in a more relaxed setting, and also helps the younger siblings feel comfortable in the “big school."

Former student library helpers that are moving on to the high school can also earn service hours. They help shelve books, work the reading record check-in table and hand out the incentives which include coupons for local restaurants, passes to museums, and a free book to any kid that completes the reading record. The older students have just as much fun helping as they did participating when they were younger!

This year’s theme is “Ready, Set, Read!!” for Red Smith, and we have lots of fun activities planned for our theme days. Besides the obvious Olympics and Sports days, we will bring back the ever-popular Minecraft day, a Lego Day, an Origami day, and even an Elephant and Piggie Party! Click here to see this year’s program that is sent home to all the students in the school.  

If you are interested and would like more information or have questions about how we run the school library over the summer, feel free to email Amy Kline at arkline@gbaps.org.


Amy Kline, Library Media Specialist at Red Smith 4K-8 School in the Green Bay Area Public Schools, accidentally became a school library media specialist in 1996 and discovered it was her calling. She finds the intersection of books and educational technology is an exciting place and enjoys spreading her discoveries about both to anyone who will listen! Amy loves being a mom to two active little boys, a playful puppy, and a wonderful husband who is also an amazing teacher. Road trips, camping, hiking and quilting (ask to see her Harry Potter quilt-in-progress!) are other hobbies that she participates in when not reading or exploring new technology.

Green Bay Area Public Schools is a Kajeet customer.  

Topics: Digital Learning, Ed Tech Inspiration


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