There is a special person at your public library who wants help your child succeed in school this year — the youth services librarian! We work in conjunction with school media specialists to assist students with research, Internet access (including online resources) and reader’s advisory. But there is so much more a youth services librarian can do to assist both parents and students this upcoming year.
When school begins, remember to keep in contact with your public librarian! Most youth services librarians offer school visits and tours when school starts. An important part of collaboration between school media specialists and public libraries involves introducing students to their local public librarian. When schools visit the public library, students can learn about the Dewey Decimal system and how to find materials they need for their studies. We can provide displays of materials that the schools are highlighting so that there is an abundance of information relevant to their curriculum readily available. We inform students of upcoming library events such as author talks, community celebrations, educational programs, new book releases, as well as other local opportunities for families to enjoy together.
Safe Internet access is a prime concern for parents and students. Florida public libraries have programs to provide training and information regarding safely using the Internet, as well as online resources. Public libraries use a large portion of their budget to purchase licensed, reliable online resources that might be unavailable to the average school. Most of these resources are available for parents and students to use anywhere with just a public library card.
The Division of Library and Information Services of the Florida Department of State provides a comprehensive collection of information on a wide range of topics for Floridians of all ages on the Florida Electronic Library, a free online database. FCAT Explorer is provided online by the Florida Department of Education as a free FCAT practice resource. Reading skills practice is available for fourth, sixth, eighth, and 10th grades. Youth services librarians would be happy to help students and parents access any database available. The Dunedin Public Library youth services department provides homework help for students. Unlike private tutors, these helpers are free and available on a regular basis. At our library, we use our teen volunteers to help students in the afternoon. These teens have committed to help our Youth Librarians with programming while collecting hours towards their Bright Futures Scholarships. As well as providing a helpful, free service teens can also gain experience, knowledge and scholarships which will benefit them and their future college careers.
Most public library youth departments offer professional collections for both educators and homeschooling parents. These collections contain informational nonfiction materials relevant to teaching curriculum. Materials are available to be checked out and utilized by anyone interested! The youth services librarian would be happy to direct parents, teachers and students to where information on any subject would be found.
An important part of literacy in elementary schools includes the Sunshine State Readers for the Battle of the Books. Every year there is a new collection introduced to promote reading and comprehension for grades three through eight. Students are on a quest to read as many of these books as possible and to become expert competitors for the Battle of the Books (schools compete against each other in a “question and answer” time to see which school knows that most about the Sunshine State Readers). The local public library purchases multiple copies of this collection every year and the youth librarian can help students obtain copies as fast as humanly possible!
Most importantly, the public library youth services departments set aside a special place for families to spend time together in a learning community. Students can be with other children in a welcoming place that makes literacy fun. Find time each week to spend some time with your student after school or on the weekend at your local public library and promote a life long habit of learning for your kids!
Head of Youth Services
Dunedin Public Library