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Sustain Learning Over the Summer with Libraries

Monday, May 20, 2019

School and public libraries can be major sustainers for summer learning, reading, and exploring. While public libraries serve schools and communities throughout the year, programming during the summer months provides additional ways and time to interact at no cost.

As the school year comes to a close, educators, librarians, and administrators can promote the many services available through the public library system, and summer hours of operation for school libraries if available. Something as simple as scheduling library card sign-up can make a difference for students during the summer months.

From coding camps to bookmobiles, libraries play an integral role in addressing community needs. Several public school libraries even partner with public libraries to support students’ needs over the summer months. The Association for Library Service to Children offers a toolkit for anyone interested in public and school library collaborations.

Julie Beloungy, Library Media Specialist for the School District of Thorp, explained how the public library and the school district have partnered to offer kids in the community summer library programming. “We have offered a weekly event throughout the summer to all students in our school district,” she said. “It is considered a summer school course so the school benefits from the number of kids that participate and the Public Library benefits because it is staffed and financed by the school. We hold the 10-week session at the Public Library for an hour and a half every Tuesday.”

The district follows the theme from the Public Library's Collaborative Summer Library Program, “A Universe of Stories.” This is another benefit to their Public Library as well since it gets kids in the door and excited about continuing their summer reading. They also have young performers visit during two of the weeks which they hold at the school to accommodate for space, along with and stories, activities, and snacks all summer.

Amy Kline, Library Media Specialist for Red Smith, a K-8 school in Green Bay, has a similar partnership under the same theme during the summer. The Red Smith School Library acts as a satellite location for the Brown County Public Library.

Historically, eastern Green Bay held summer school at Red Smith, but now, Kline will welcome students and families every Tuesday from 9-2.

“Lots of families come in! It’s a good way for incoming 4K kids to get comfortable with a school. I have makerspace centers laid out with a theme each week,” Kline said. “After eighth grade, students can volunteer for service hours they need for high school, so kids help shelve books, check in reading program kids, and help run crafts.”

Kline says she is thankful for the Parent Teacher Organization’s support for library activities, and the continued opportunity to get to know students and their families outside of a traditional school day.

Partnerships like these continue to be established all over the state.

For eight years, the Menasha Joint School District has kept the elementary and high school libraries open to serve both summer school and community needs. Jennifer Peterson, the preK-12 District Library Media Supervisor sends out a communication to parents and guardians to let them know they can come in during summer school hours. For those who may not be able to get there often, she reminds them about OverDrive, a method for checking out digital content like eBooks, eMagazines and audiobooks that can be used all summer long.

In addition to OverDrive and book check out, many libraries even check out hotspots, which is especially useful in areas without internet access. Whether or not a school district partners with the public library system, it is important to remember that public libraries have summer programming, often for all ages.

Some public libraries offer registration for the whole summer, allowing patrons to sign up as soon as school is out.

BadgerLink, Wisconsin’s Online Library, is available all summer long as well. The following are some of the many services recommended by DPI Resources for Lifelong Learning staff:

  • Keep up your school skills with LearningExpress School Center.
  • Get the scoop on ice cream in Britannica School.
  • Need to find your next beach (or backyard) read? Check out Novelist!
  • Find where in the world you are going on vacation using Britannica World Atlas.
  • Get a jump start on your ACT prep this summer with LearningExpress Library’s College Admissions Test Preparation.
  • While enjoying the great outdoors, learn more about the environment with GreenFILE.
  • Grow your own vegetable garden with tips from magazines in Primary Search and Middle Search Plus.
  • Don’t just look up on clear summer nights! Learn more about astronomy with Science Reference Center.
  • Find out what that word really means in Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Finally, an increasing number of libraries actually serve as sites for summer meals. For a map of all summer meal sites, visit the DPI Find a Summer Summer Meals Site web page.