Two Elementary Schools Innovate Their Library Book Distributions
In the ongoing efforts to help as many CHCCS students as possible access library books, a few schools have instituted curbside pickup as an extension of the media centers’ service. The media specialists at two dual-language elementary schools, Carrboro (CES) and Frank Porter Graham Bilingue (FPGB) have taken their outreach to even greater levels to ensure wider availability of books for all their students.
Media Specialists Tyson Hallet at CES and Janet Peterson at FPGB both oversee broad book and resource collections in English and Spanish at their schools’ libraries. But students have not had full access to those collections since March. Peterson said, “It was important for our bilingual school to resume physical book circulation, as our students need Spanish books, which are not easily available in as great a quantity elsewhere locally.”
Hallet developed a system for curbside book pick-up in September, as CES became the pilot elementary school to provide the service. As she notes on the CES Library webpage, “Because of Carrboro (Elementary)’s unique location and needs as a dual-language school, it makes sense for us to give this a try.” Curbside pickup days (all weekdays except Wednesday) are assigned according to the student’s last name.
CES uses the Destiny online check out system, and Hallet has created a detailed and clear instructional PowerPoint for families to learn how the system works. Hallet even posts a “curbside traffic light” on the Library homepage, so families can tell how the flow of requests is being processed.
But Hallet recognized the absence of many families who were unable to drive to the school at the designated times, so she decided to try weekly mobile checkouts. CES Principal, Jennifer Halsey, said of Hallet, “For mobile checkouts, she is taking library books out into some of the communities we serve where the kids might not be able to come to the school to pick up books.” Students can check out books right from the mobile set up in the neighborhood parking lots. Halsey added that for one of the initial neighborhood visits, 60 books were checked out at one stop.
Peterson began the dual-language initiative at FPGB by first checking out books to kindergarten, fourth and fifth grade students, but she is adding the other grades as she is able. “It's taking a bit of time as K-5 have very different levels of needs and technological independance for book checkouts,” she said. “Kindergarteners check out themed Bilingual Book Kits of 10 books in English and Spanish. They choose a theme (dinosaurs, family, outdoor adventures, cats, etc.) from a Google Form.” First through third grade students will use the same process to choose their books.
“Fourth and fifth graders are currently logging into the library catalog online to put books on hold independently,” Peterson said. “Students have a week to pick up their books from a library cart outside the front doors of the school for contactless pickup. They can keep their books for a month, and return them into crates outside the school as well. Books will be quarantined for at least a week before being checked out again.”
“There are a lot of logistics involved!” said Peterson. “I have helpers two days a week that are making this possible, two elementary school crossing guards from the Transportation office who are helping me pull books for students and shelve them when they are returned (as well as repairing books that need it): Ricky Christian and Russell O'Briant, and they are awesome! I am really grateful to them as I couldn't do this without help.”
FPGB Assistant Principal, Katherine Rangel, said, “There has been a great response from our families! Not only do they get access to our library, I think it is nice having a little piece of FPGB at home with them. I am so thankful for Janet and Tyson working hard to make this safely possible for our students.”