We all know that this upcoming school year is going to be different than any other, and that families have to adjust to big changes, such as how best to support learning from home. One of the Library’s areas of focus in our Strategic Plan is student success. We’re committed to helping young people have the resources and supports they need to succeed in school and prepare for post-secondary education, training, careers, and life. Here is an overview of our plans for supporting students and their families this school year.
With more than 9 million items in our collection, we have a depth and breadth of print and digital resources to help with teaching and learning. We have reached out to the superintendents in all 22 public districts as well as parochial school superintendents in our county to offer to provide library cards for all their students and teachers. Each year Library staff members make about 1,700 visits to schools, more than 500 educators regularly use our Educator Cards, and we loan about 136,000 items to them for their students.
This coming week we’re going to focus on parents and caregivers with “Back to School in Unusual Times,” Aug. 17-21. This is a week of free virtual programs for parents and caregivers to equip them with tools that can help them support learning from home. Topics covered include a Common Core crash course, teaching resiliency to kids, library resources for at-home learning, and more. For details visit our calendar, opens a new window. Also, this 11-minute video , opens a new windowprovides tips to help parents and caregivers support at-home learning.
Kids learning remotely, and their families, are welcome to visit our locations during all open hours. We do still have safety protocols in place, including requiring face coverings, reduced occupancy levels, and limits on the length a customer can stay. Right now, we are working to improve our outdoor spaces and meeting rooms at many of our locations so we can support students who need homework help, access to WiFi or devices, or assistance with their own device.
For example, we are investigating rearranging the second floor of the Downtown Main Library so it can focus specifically on providing support to students. Initially, we envision being able to accommodate up to 24 students at a time who sign up in advance to reserve a space.
We intend to use the first few weeks of school to learn what the demand is for student use of our facilities and as capacity allows, and we may try additional strategies like adding student-only hours in the evenings, and adjusting occupancy levels, if the spread of COVID-19 continues to improve in our county.
Anyone with a library card can use our Homework HelpNow resource, which provides a variety of supports to students, including live homework assistance, study tools, virtual study rooms and even free assistance with filling out the financial aid form for college (FAFSA). Check out this brief video, opens a new window to learn more about this great resource.
Afterschool Snacks and Meals
In previous school years many of our locations provided afterschool snacks and meals with the assistance of a community partner. This program is federally funded, and the state of Ohio is currently working out guidelines for how this program can be implemented during this unusual school year when many youth are learning from home all or some of the time. We will keep families informed as to whether the revised guidelines allow us to provide this service this year.
Our staff is creating digital content that can be used by teachers to support their curriculum. Videos featuring storytimes and STEM activities are already available on our YouTube channel, opens a new window, and more are still to come. Our staff members also are available to make in-person or virtual visits to classrooms to read stories, teach research skills, and more.
More to Come
We are working closely with other organizations in the city and county to coordinate efforts and pool resources so together we can meet the challenge of serving students and families this school year. While we know this academic year may be difficult for students and families, we are committed to serving you to the best of our ability.