Third graders meet the Webster Public Library

13 Jan

In a program that brings the Webster community and the Webster Public Library (WPL) together, our school district’s third graders are getting a jump-start on their love for reading by getting a close-up look at the library and all the services it offers.

All of Webster’s third grade students will be taking field trips to the Webster Public Library (WPL) this school year as part of a get-to-know-the-library program that will run through June. The idea came from discussions WPL Outreach Coordinator Jason Poole and Schlegel Elementary School librarian Jamie Palmer were having last year about school visits. At the time, due to the pandemic, schools were not allowing visitors, but students could go on field trips. Classes were already visiting the downtown library; giving them the chance to see their local library as well seemed like a natural next step.

Earlier this year, Schlegel Rd. Elementary students were the first to make the trip, in a trial run of the new program. It “went pretty well but was a little chaotic,” Poole said. He added,

After discussion with the youth department, we changed our approach to the current system, adapting and combining elements of existing in-house programming (staff area tours, storytimes, crafts, etc.) to create four stations that offer students a little taste of all WPL has to offer them. A charcuterie board of library experiences, if you will.

It’s one of the few programs that touches all areas of the library.

In December, Plank North Elementary third graders visited and experienced the newly-tweaked program. During their tour, the students made a craft in the teen area, explored the Children’s Room, and sat for storytime. They even got a close-up, behind-the-scenes look at places usually hidden from the public, including the back offices and the receiving end of the outdoor book drop.

But teaching students how to use the library really wouldn’t mean much if they couldn’t actually check out books. So, working closely with the library’s circulation department, Palmer and Poole came up with an ambitious plan to also make sure every one of the visiting third graders could sign up for a library card, if they didn’t have one already. Allowing them to do so without a parent or guardian present meant adjusting the library’s standard policy, but it was definitely well worth the effort, Poole said. Using their brand new library cards, each student could actually check out a book before they left the library. For a child who’s never been able to do that before, it’s a pretty exciting experience.

“Third graders are pretty much at the perfect developmental stage to really begin to appreciate the value of having their own library card,” Poole said.  

As an added bonus, each student also received a coupon, redeemable on their next library visit for a goodie bag with lots of little gifts including a card holder, an activity booklet, a WPL pin, and several other fun items.

So far, Schlegel and Plank North are the only two schools to have made the WPL trip, but the rest of the schools will be visiting in the next several months. Still, the Webster Public Library has already touched the lives of 146 students. In the process, 90 new library cards were issued, 26 cards were replaced, and four account problems were resolved. A whopping 80% of these third graders did not have access to the library before the trip, and now they do.

It’s a proud feeling to be trusted with the responsibility of having a library card, and a thrill to be able to walk into the library and leave with your favorite book.

What an awesome way to reinforce the joy of reading, and start these young people on their journey to lifelong learning.

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(posted 1/13/2023)

7 Responses to “Third graders meet the Webster Public Library”

  1. David Whitlock January 13, 2023 at 7:06 pm #

    Important – Dave

  2. Linda J Meyers January 13, 2023 at 8:09 pm #

    I LOVE this!!

  3. camelcae January 14, 2023 at 12:38 am #

    Jason, I wanted to be sure you saw Missy’s article. I sent her a thank you via email because I personally have appreciated her articles since I moved here.

  4. readmybook2002 January 14, 2023 at 6:41 am #

    Speaking of libraries, which may have small budgets and big needs, I ran across this yesterday. Maybe if you know someone from the Webster Library or in school libraries looking for equipment or furnishings, this may help.
    Old Henrietta Library Auction Liquidation
    2 Auctions – Hundreds of Items – Starting at ONLY $1!

    • websterontheweb January 14, 2023 at 8:03 am #

      This is great information, thanks! I’ll forward it to my peeps at the WPL.

  5. DPD January 14, 2023 at 2:35 pm #

    This is marketing, and not in a pejorative sense. “Recruiting” third graders ages eight to nine years old is brilliant. They are curious and want to explore the world, but need safe boundaries. Any public library is filled with resources to explore, and WPL is exceptional, and that age loves to explore safe places. Further, if even forty percent of the third graders return later and bring their older & younger siblings and parents, that results in growth. Most public libraries are far underused and under-appreciated. In terms of ROI (return on investment) a library card is nearly unmatched; public libraries represent a portion of your tax dollars serving you. [And I learned what a charcuterie board is – thanks Jason …]

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