In order to bring more kids into the Deptford library, its staffers visit the township middle school on the first Tuesday of each month to showcase the many resources available to library card holders.
Reference Librarian Michelle Burns addresses the students during the school’s lunch periods. Her next visit will be on Jan. 3.
“When I got this job in April, one of the goals we set for the library was to build up our young adult users,” said Burns. “I’d love to have programs for teens, but we really don’t get many kids coming to the library. I heard that the library in the middle school was replaced with classrooms and office space, so I knew they didn’t have a library there at all.
“I wanted to get in there to offer library services to the kids, and also get to know them and what they like, so I can maybe have some programs for them.”
The school’s library was a casualty of summer renovations.
“I contacted Shana Barnes at the school district, as well as John Merullo, who is an administrator with the district and also sits on our library board,” Burns noted. “We all sort of had the same idea at the same time. We all want to bring library services to the students at the middle school to help improve their literacy skills.”
On her visit to the school earlier this month, Burns brought books that ranged from graphic novels to biographies and nonfiction. The biggest obstacle, she acknowledged, is that students still need their own card – not their parents’ – to use the library’s resources.
“If they don’t have their card with them, I can look them up in the system, but most of the students I spoke with didn’t have a Deptford library card,” Burns explained. “The teachers gave out card applications several weeks ago in anticipation of my visits, but not too many middle-school students returned them.
“Any student in Deptford can get a library card at any time by swinging by the library and having a parent or guardian fill out the application.”
The middle-school program will be evaluated in the summer so the library can assess what worked and didn’t work.
“My director and I were pretty happy with that, especially on the first time out,” said Burns. “I really enjoyed my time there. The students were great. The ones who came over to talk to me seemed receptive to the idea.
“I hope to get to know the students better and learn what types of materials and programs they want from their library.”