Recently the librarians of Mineral Wells ISD were provided the opportunity to share how they are leading outside of the school library to improve the reading lives of their students by utilizing community partnerships.
The Texas Association of School Librarians hosts a weekly “lunch and learn” webinar series designed for busy school librarians to learn new ways to improve their school and district library programs. In November, the district’s librarians presented, “If You Give a Librarian a Community” to school librarians across the state.
The idea of “If You Give a Librarian a Community” began several years ago, after the group saw a need to get books into the hands of students before they even enrolled in school. The group called upon their already strong relationships with various community leaders, and with the support of the district Curriculum Department, held a “Bookpalooza” event to work with teen parents on the importance of reading to their children at an early age.
They illustrated how to read aloud to a child and provided books to begin a home library. Next, a Books and Babies initiative was started to provide MWISD staff members a book upon the birth of their children. After hearing about this program, the Mineral Wells Woman’s Club donated to fund the program for a year. Building home libraries and sharing the love of reading is vital to the success of our youngest Rams.
Libraries are often gifted books from community members, so a plan was needed to put this large number of books to good use. Totes of books are now found in the Palo Pinto General Hospital’s waiting rooms and Children’s Alliance Center. Each year at the district’s Multicultural Block Party at Lamar Elementary, hundreds of books are given away to our elementary students.
In order to truly be able to reach more students, especially during the summer months, a bookmobile was implemented. The district’s Transportation Department provided a bus, the Maintenance Department removed the seating, Lee’s Collision provided a new paint job, The Logo Shop designed a wrap, and the district Special Programs Department bought new books in order to complete the project.
The RAMbling Library follows the Food Service Department’s summer feeding program which allows the district to feed its students in both mind and body. The bookmobile provides access for families without reading materials at home and to those without transportation to get to the public library.
Long-standing partnerships with the Rotary Club of Mineral Wells and the Palo Pinto County Retired Teachers Association, who have been donating books to our campus libraries and students for over a decade, further the ability to share the importance of literacy throughout the community.