I’m getting this in just under the wire because the American Library Association Annual Conference started today with my favorite part – the independent school tours! I love the school tours because I get to see the libraries in action. As much as I learn from you all in blog posts and the listserv, it’s different to see your libraries in person and see all of the little things that make each of our libraries unique. So I thought I’d share some of the things I loved at each.

The Kovler Library at the Francis Parker School is doing really great collaborations with between literacy, tech, and curriculum by working with their edtech team across all grade levels – and yes they serve pre-k through 12. The book recommendation vending machine was the result of one of these collabs – 4th graders created book recs for the 3rd graders, and now the vending machine lives in the library.

We also visited the libraries at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and the Catherine Cook School, and both have amazing in-school book awards that are run by their students. At the UC Lab Schools, a committee of 6th graders works to create a list of nominees, which the 3rd – 5th grades then read, evaluate, and vote on. Winners are announced at a giant awards ceremony, complete with a winning author or illustrator from the previous year. The awards process is also cross-divisional – 5th graders make posters for the nominees in the style of their illustrations each year, and the posters from previous years cover the walls of the library (middle picture above)!

I didn’t get any pictures of the school awards at Charlotte Cook (just one of the cozy nooks in their storytime room), but they have each grade 1st – 4th do their own mock version of a major award. They also do a giant awards ceremony at the end, and students present the nominees and read selections.

The next chance for the tours will be at the AASL conference in October, so if you’re coming to AASL I highly recommend you join me on the school tours! If you’re at ALA this weekend, here are a few more sessions I’m planning to attend – say hey if you’ll be there too!

  • Asking for help makes me nervous: high school to college library experiences
  • 40+ sure-fire ways to spark a love of reading
  • Birds aren’t real: how students can work against misinformation and advocate
  • BookTube, Bookstagram, and BookTok: Understanding the online bookaverse as tool for professional development

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