Outreach Programs and Students: Why?

Libraries and schools have often worked together to promote reading in children. Many libraries provide outreach programs for children of all ages to participate in, both at the library and at schools and sometimes at other locations, as well. Public libraries and schools have teamed up to make sure they are providing the best support and assistance to their patrons to make sure they are fully supporting their communities (Harper, 2014). As with school librarians, public librarians want to provide assistance and support to all students and this can be done through different outreach programs. “Both libraries are accountable to their communities and advocate for their importance and continued sustainability. Fiscally, libraries must also do more with less and be vigilant in demonstrating their due diligence in providing high quality service and resources while keeping up with the ever-changing kaleidoscope of emerging technologies and national agendas such as the Common Core” (Harper, 2014). Many public libraries support schools by offering after-school homework help activities, and the librarians try to coordinate with teachers to make sure they are offering all that they can to their patrons. Librarians in public libraries can help teachers and students by making sure they offer a range of materials, both print and electronic.

Public librarians play an important role that may not often be noticed by the public. They are co-instructors to students, alongside of classroom educators and they are also “professional-development providers for those teachers” (Harper, 2014). Many may not realize the importance and usefulness of public libraries in coordination with schools. Librarians can help support students both in and out of school in a number of ways, and the public needs to realize the helpfulness provided by public libraries and librarians. Communities need to recognize this and make sure they are not underestimating “the extent to which public librarians can reinforce and support our work and our kids’ learning well beyond the school day” (Harper, 2014). Public libraries can help support students throughout the year in a number of ways. These outreach programs can have a very positive effect on student learning and achievement in school and can often help develop lifelong learners and readers in the community. “Public libraries, particularly, are well-positioned to support children and families to develop language and literacy skills through out-of-school reading because they are accessible to all members of the community, have longer opening hours than most educational facilities and provide ready access to information and communications technology” (Leitaq, Barratt-Pugh, Anderson, Barblett, & Haig, 2015). Because students only attend school for nine out of the twelve months of the year, libraries provide additional support and learning to children to make sure they keep up their literacy skills and continue to grow as learners. Many outreach programs can take place during the school year, but summer programs can greatly help children sustain their knowledge and thrive. “Family and community members invested in these partnerships assist by providing academic support to children while they are not in school” (Martinez, 2008). Not only can library outreach programs help learners make gains in their learning, but they help bring communities together as a whole. Patrons want to feel welcome in libraries and this can be done by offering different programs to all members of a community. “Partnerships and collaboration between public libraries and other agencies are important. This is because they enable public libraries to expand their programs and services and, potentially, reach more people in the community” (Leitaq, Barratt-Pugh, Anderson, Barblett, & Haig, 2015). By having programs that bring a community together, libraries can create inviting environments where all feel welcome regardless of reading abilities. Many different programs can be offered to support students of all needs. Collaboration between public and school libraries is so important to support the community and this can be done by offering outreach programs that focus on student achievement and learning. Overall, student outreach programs are beneficial to everyone involved, and there are many different ways to make this happen.

References

Harper, M. (2014). Collaboration of School and Public Libraries. Ohio Media Spectrum, 66(1), 47-56.

Leitaq, N., Barratt-Pugh, C., Anderson, K., Barblett, L., & Haig, Y. (2015).    Engaging Children in Reading for Pleasure: A Better Beginnings Project Linking Libraries with Primary Schools. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 65(1), 1-24.

Martinez, G. (2008). Public Libraries – Community Organizations Making Outreach Efforts to Help Young Children Succeed in School. School Community Journal, 18(1), 93-104.

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