Public and School Libraries: Serving the Same Population Together

May 28, 2014 Follett Learning

by Susan Swan, St. Helena High School Library Media Specialist, and Jennifer Baker, St. Helena Public Library Director

In St. Helena, we are extremely proud of the symbiotic relationship we have created between the school library and the public library. Together we work to impress upon students that the school library is an extension of our public library and vice versa and we do our best to make the services as seamless as possible. Overall, we try to function as a team and have built our practices and processes to support a relationship that encourages use of our combined resources.

Here are just a few examples of the ways we work together:

● When the school library locks up for summer break, Susan delivers classroom copies of the assigned summer reading books to the public library, with copies of the assignments. Staff manually track check outs to students.

● Our school requires all students to have public library cards. Ninth grade teachers distribute applications and facilitate getting parent signatures. Susan then takes the signed applications to the public library, where they are processed on the spot so she can hand deliver them to students the next day.

● Either Susan or Jennifer introduces freshman classes to the online resources to which they have access thanks to their public library cards, and instructs them about how to search the public library catalog and place holds. There is a link to the public library directly under the link to the high school library catalog on St. Helena High School Library’s webpage.

● Throughout the year, if a student needs his or her library card number to access online resources or place holds, public library staff will gladly confirm the number immediately over the phone!

● For students who have a hard time getting to the public library, Susan will pick up and deliver books, help track due dates, and return books as needed.

● The public library will help track down multiple copies of specific books, including classroom novels, to fill in gaps in the high school library’s collection of assigned reading.

● Susan loans copies of frequently used textbooks so students and tutors may use them in the library throughout the school year.

● The public library plans special teen events on early-release days. The school helps publicize the programs and Susan actively promotes them.

● We collaborate on creating many of the library events—designing programs that complement the school curriculum and give teachers a reason to encourage participation. Susan is currently serving on the board of trustees for the public library, so the two libraries stay in close touch that way too.

We hope our ideas help you make the most of your libraries. For more information, or to share your ideas with us, please contact sswan@sthelenaunified.org

Susan Swan

Susan Swan


Susan Swan has been the Library Media Specialist at St. Helena High School for seven years. She holds a degree in Linguistics from U.C. Berkeley. Prior to working full time, she volunteered in the local libraries and was a long-term substitute in St. Helena’s school libraries. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Helena Public Library. Libraries, bookstores, reading, and anything having to do with writing or language are her passions. One of her favorite parts of her job is working closely with juniors and seniors to help the counselor guide them through the college application process.

Jennifer Baker


Jennifer Baker


Jennifer Baker is the director of the St Helena Public Library, a 2014 Best Small Library in America finalist. She has worked in public libraries for over 20 years, including ten in youth services, and spent two years working in a junior high school library. In her spare time she is the online voice of the world famous Elsie the library cat.
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