As Digital Teacher Librarians (DTLs) it comes as second nature to find the collaboration opportunities in all that we do. Multiply that times two and the energy becomes an unstoppable force, something akin to the thing superheroes are made of (Did you know Batgirl was a Librarian during her “off” hours?).
When we combine the energies of our Jeffco DTLs and the Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) resources amazing things happen for our staff and students. Just as Gru’s Minions each have unique talents, when they work together they are able to accomplish extraordinary tasks.
At this point, you might be asking, how does the work of JCPL combine with our Jeffco DTLs to create this superpower for our students and staff? To begin, each a month JCPL representatives including Arra Katona, Cindy Mathews, Kim Barnes and Ian Livingston meet with Jeffco’s DTL Coordinators (Tara McJunkin & Heidi Floyd) to collaborate and align the work of both groups. As a result of these meetings we have developed a variety of resources that directly align and connect the work of both organizations. One of the newest and most beneficial resources for Jeffco DTLs, staff and students is the JCPL DTL News. This resource has been built specifically to align to Jeffco’s curriculum with JCPL’s resources. It is a collection of differentiated publications - one each for Elementary, Middle School, & High School DTLs. This timely newsletter links Jeffco schools with JCPL resources that teachers and students can be accessing at that time or in the near future to support their learning.
Likely the strongest collaboration between JCPL and Jeffco DTLs is JCPL’s summer reading program. The summer program engages Jeffco students with reading over summer in a variety of ways – the annual reading challenge (tracking minutes read & awarding prizes), offering literacy related programs to students and their families from preschool all the way through high school (and beyond). JCPL has worked with school liaisons to connect with families and community, offering summer reading programs at schools and outside of 9-5 business hours.
JCPL has also coordinated with Jeffco DTLs to offer in-school support – including visiting schools to teach students about the wide variety of free research databases the library offers. These free databases typically require a JCPL library card, which is another area where the teams work together to help students and families receive their public library cards. Not only do library cards grant students access to millions of books and hundreds of databases, but they also connect families with opportunities to learn technology skills and free access to variety of museums in the metro area through a Culture Pass.
At the start of the 2016 school year, JCPL purchased several collections of ebooks that aligned directly with the Jeffco curriculum. In fact, 24 ebooks on Native Americans and 14 ebooks on Colorado were purchased that allowed for unlimited users at once. These texts supported a variety of learning styles, by each including the ability to read the text to students, an interactive timeline and an interactive map.
Engaging students and community with new technologies is another advantage of this pairing. JCPL recently offered Breakout Edu or Escape Room challenges at their local libraries but then also brought these engaging opportunities to several Jeffco schools. A recent Harry Potter Escape Room was offered at schools in alignment with the release of the Fantastic Beasts movie, based off J.K. Rowling’s book.
So, you might be wondering what is in currently the works for these collaborators.
We can tell you plans are already rolling for the 2017 Summer Reading program, along with several summer coding camps. We continue to discuss resource alignment – matching JCPLs resources and potential resources with Jeffco’s curriculum and the needs of our Jeffco schools. As a partnership, we look forward to our next steps and finding the best ways to collaborate for our students, staff, and community.