This winter we decided to try outreach to our area preschools for the first time as a "test." Here's what we did:
While we only have 2 staff members dedicated to storytimes in-house, we decided to pool our branch and anyone else who has done storytimes. This left us with 6 people who could do outreach. Each staff member was asked to find 4 times from January-May they would be able to go to a preschool for a storytime (this needed to not affect desk time/other programs/meeting etc.) and we created an online form with Survey Monkey. This form was sent to all preschools we could find contact information for (this was harder than expected!) and each class was allowed to sign up for 1 visit. Staff was responsible for contacting the preschool to confirm the visit.
Each staff member is responsible for creating their own 30 minute storytime (we didn't want to make it uniform as each of us has our own strengths and favorite books) they repeat at each preschool. We send each preschool a survey after we visit for them to tell us what they liked and if it was successful.
I don't think we were very clear with our goals and objectives. We ask on our survey if providers feel they know more about library resources for them after our visit. We should have included a handout with information on our provider card (because we have one! I know NOTHING about it! It's on the agenda for this week's dept. meeting) and we should have included our department flyer with upcoming events. Each child did receive a bookmark about our "Discovery Packs" (We have a number of backpacks available for checkout for anyone. Each has 3-5 books on a theme, a song sheet, and a craft/DVD/CD. Sort of a storytime to go for our patrons).
I know we'll be continuing outreach to preschools this fall. We are considering offering storytime training to volunteers and we'd like to remove some of our paid staff from this program. We're very out of balance with visits to our area schools and while it's important for preschoolers to be exposed to the library, we're starting to feel it may be more important for older school aged children to identify library staff at outreach events.
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