Thursday, April 22, 2010

New York City serves youth

In a recent post, I described, with a certain amount of envy, Brooklyn Public Library's Everyone Serves Youth program, in which every library staff member receives a mandatory half-day training on how and why to offer excellent customer service to children, teens, and families. Other library systems who offer staff training of this sort include Multnomah County Public Library, the District of Columbia Public Library, and the West Bloomfield Public Township Public Library.

One of my goals for the coming months (and, no doubt, years) is to work much more closely and effectively with our behemoth of a public school system, the Los Angeles Unified School District. Right now our children's and YA librarians visit their local schools, but with staff shortages this has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, and anyway, there are simply far too many schools for our librarians to visit even if we were fully staffed.

So of course the answer is to collaborate with LAUSD at a more systemwide and administrative level, and I have plenty of ideas and suggestions for how LAPL and LAUSD can start working together in big and small ways to serve the children, teens, and families of Los Angeles.

And here is some truly jaw-dropping inspiration:
New York City's Library Card Act!

This legislation requires all incoming Kindergartners, 6th-graders, and 9th-graders to receive library card applications at school.

This is an excellent example of City government, the Department of Education, and three different library systems coming together to not only acknowledge that access to public libraries is a key ingredient to student success, but also to make sure it happens.

No, it's not a total solution. But wow, it's sure a great start.


  1. Library Card Act?!? That is amazing! People thinking way outside the box.

  2. I love the idea of mandatory training for ALL library staff on working with children. I'm going to investigate this possibility for my library system.

  3. I love visiting classrooms. What a great opportunity to give the kids a glimpse of our fun library materials and explain a bit about what we can do there! Even when the kids can't come to the library (parents won't bring them, etc.), I feel great about having created a positive association with at least the IDEA of a library.

    Last week I was "sparkling" in a local 4th grade class and guess what, a couple girls came to the library after school for the FIRST TIME! Unfortunately, this was also the moment when some teens decided to have a serious fight in the library that required LAPD response. Heartbreaker!

    Another heartbreaking LAUSD library story is: LAUSD cut librarians at our local elementaries. The school libraries are closed and even teachers can't use them. Furthermore, they are using the school library as the DETENTION room... no reading allowed!

  4. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can implement that kind of staff training in my own system some day.
    Sarah, do you think those 4th-graders will come back? Never underestimate the power of sparkle! And argh, school libraries used for detention?? That is like something out of 1984 (the book, not the year).