Cultivating community partnerships is a foundational element in the Baltimore County Public Schools’s (BCPS’s) library story. BCPS’s collaborations with Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL), Towson University, and the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools significantly contribute to supporting BCPS’s students, families, and staff in a shared commitment to creating literate, lifelong learners.
Since 2013, BCPS and BCPL have been collaborative partners in the Students Achieve in Libraries (SAIL) initiative. This partnership addresses the needs of our shared stakeholders and is characterized by a continued collaboration and efforts to improve equitable access and provide a variety of resources to the students of Baltimore County. In November 2017, BCPS removed the barrier of the physical library card and created BCPL accounts for all 113,000 students, who now are able to access physical and digital materials using their student identification numbers.
Each summer, BCPS and BCPL jointly promote the summer reading club and wide variety of opportunities for students to engage in summer learning and programming. The public library provides full programs with prizes and reading incentives at its nineteen branches. All 163 BCPS libraries promote the program and register students prior to the end of the school year. This promotion ensures that students engage in efforts to avoid the “summer slide.”
BCPS opens its school libraries in the summer for students who may have barriers in their ability to travel to the public library branch; those schools serve as satellite locations for the public library’s Summer @ Your Library reading program. BCPS’s public library partners provide the materials for use in the schools’ summer locations. This collaboration removes obstacles in participation in this valuable program.
Throughout the school year, shared efforts support school events, which are held at local branches or in schools in order to introduce students to the public library, summer reading, and other available educational opportunities, including STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and Mathematics) programming and teen career workshops. Baltimore County’s public librarians have been co-teaching on BCPS campuses in collaboration with school-based staff in order to promote the many public library resources for use in inquiry and research.
BCPL provides summer meal programs at branches located within Title I areas with support from BCPS’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services. This partnership allows students with food insecurity to gain access to nutritious meals and engage in educational programming.
The BCPS wireless network has been installed in the public library branches, providing access for students to systemic resources while they are out of school. This initiative clarifies the priority of education and technology access for learning in the twenty-first century.
BCPS teachers have access to support in the form of teacher loan cards and curated collections submitted by request. Classroom materials on loan from the public library expand learning opportunities for the students.
The BCPS and BCPL partnership is ever evolving through regular meetings and commitment to finding new ways to support the county’s students.
BCPS’s long collaboration with neighboring Towson University enables the school district to recruit teachers who have a passion for school libraries and are invested in matriculating for a master’s degree with a concentration in school library media. Currently, 78 percent of BCPS school librarians are a product of this collaborative professional development effort. Beginning in spring 2018, BCPS is launching a post-master’s program for certified staff that will enable them to continue to engage in professional learning with job-alike peers. These combined efforts have enabled us to maintain a highly qualified staff and ensures that students and staff members will have library media programs that focus on the delivery of twenty-first-century learning instruction, information and technology learning competencies, reading achievement, and extend student learning in all curricular content areas.
The generous support of the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools enables BCPS schools to apply for grant funds in the following areas:
- Financial, Economic, Business Entrepreneurial Literacy
- Environmental Literacy
- Arts and Culture
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- Health Literacy
- Global Awareness
- Civic Literacy
BCPS’s library programs at the school level have designed and delivered innovative initiatives that provide experiential learning, twenty-first-century skill development, and literacy projects through the grants awarded each year by the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools partners.
BCPS’s commitment to ensuring that all students have equitable access to a library program staffed by strong staff and supported by community partners continues to define our work to create engaged citizens and lifelong learners. This strength is the result of a shared investment and the supportive collaboration of the community.
ABOUT FRAN GLICK
Fran Glick serves as coordinator of the office of digital learning for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). She is a former elementary teacher and elementary and secondary library media specialist. In her current role, Ms. Glick supports instructional technology and the K–12 school library program for BCPS. She was a member of the Standards and Indicators Task Force for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and contributor to Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009). Ms. Glick is a passionate advocate for re-imagining school librarians and libraries.