Tag Archives: outreach

Summer Outreach to Middle Schools – GIFtalks!

One of the lovely bloggers at Teen Services Underground (which, if you are not a member, you should be!) linked to this post about using GIFs with booktalks.

I had signed myself up for several school visits at the end of the May and start of June so I was really excited to see this idea (I didn’t even know you could use GIFs in PowerPoint – this feature will be abused from now on, whether I’m talking to 5th graders or our library staff). I had my booklists, created from titles my coworkers and I had enjoyed plus ones that were well reviewed in School Library Journal and a few I just knew about from word of mouth from our regular teen readers.

My presentation was about 45 minutes long. The first 20 minutes was my basic Summer Reading Club plug, talking about programs we would have going on all summer long and reminding them that the public library is a place that is totally FREE to get into and also has air conditioning. I didn’t pretend like it was the only place they should want to be this summer. That’s ridiculous. But I pointed out that there were going to be summer days when they would need another activity because of weather or being stuck at home. I kept the presentation light and funny and told them how easy it was to get a library card.

After we got through that, I did booktalks for about 30 minutes. I broke them down into vague genres and did about 3-4 books per genre, with a GIF behind me while talking. The kids were on the edge of their seats when I would change slides, standing up to see what characters were up there.

ANYWAY, I haven’t seen any statistics yet but I have seen a lot of older kids and teens sign up for our program and so many have come in to get the books I talked about. And just as many have said “Hello” to me when they visit, which just makes me feel like a rockstar.

So I can totally vouch for this. If you want your Readers Advisory to be a bit more fun when you visit schools, this is a great way to go, especially when talking to a large audience. My groups about 100 kids each and I was impressed by how closely they listened. I talked to over 1000 kids in about 3 weeks and it was amazing to hear them say they wanted to read something I had suggested!

If you want to see my presentation, you can download it here!

My Best Practices: Outreach to Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

I have been making the rounds, trying to visit as many of the local 5th grade classrooms as I can to talk about the different resources the library has to offer.

Upper elementary school and early middle school is a tricky time for students. They are starting to get actual research projects but the books published on the subjects they are looking into tend to be too kidly or too mature. This is the time to introduce them to databases because the physical book resources are very limited.

Anyway, this is what I focus on when I visit the classrooms. I ask the teachers in advance about what projects are on the horizon and use that as my example search. Using an assignment they are currently working on keeps it relevant and will hold their interest versus just doing through the databases and having them imagine homework (because no one fantasizes about homework).

After you go over the basics of database searching, start moving into fun stuff. I’ve found the students are really intrigued by the learn a language databases, such as Muzzy. I also go over our other online services like live chat tutoring and chat reference.

Then it’s time for the fun stuff! eBooks! Downloadable Audiobooks! And Playaways! These really get their attention and this is where the questions will start coming in. You can use any of these items to also demonstrate a basic catalog search and explain the process of placing holds.

Try to make sure you have handouts for as many things as possible. They are only in fifth grade so not the best at note-taking just yet, so having how-to-find guides for them and their teachers take the stress off of them and you when it comes to remembering all the steps.

Above all, be energetic and have fun. The kids will respond to your energy and excitement. I had 55 kids in my last group and they were full of great questions. And as a bonus, two of them have already visited me at the library! And one of them brought the entire family to get library cards. Talk about results!