- Park Forest Middle School
- Park Forest Middle School
Library Partnership Receives Commendation
An ongoing partnership between the State College Area School District and Schlow Centre Region Library can now call itself a nationally-recognized success.
The All Ready Access/Schlow-to-School Program, which automatically provides Schlow library cards to all SCASD students and allows them to have books delivered to schools, recently received a national commendation from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Both SCASD and Schlow were commended for collaborating with each other “in the implementation of the All Ready Access/Schlow-to-School Program and providing equitable access to information for the students of SCASD schools.”
“This collaboration between the public library and the school district aligns with the AASL Common Belief that information resources should be equitably available,” AASL President Kathy Lester said. “Congratulations to the State College Area School District and Schlow Centre Region Library for partnering to make sure public library resources were available to the entire school community.”
Open to SCASD staff as well, the SCASD-Schlow partnership offers convenience. Individuals who sign up for the remote borrowing system can request, pick up and return books and other Schlow materials at school libraries — all deliveries handled by SCASD Physical Plant workers several times a week. The service is particularly helpful for those lacking the time or means to travel to the library’s downtown State College location. Participants also can tap into Schlow’s collection of ebooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, databases and language learning courses.
“School librarians work hard to help students understand that libraries can open up endless possibilities to them. In the past, one of the consistent stumbling blocks shared was the need to be able to actually go to the library to pick up the desired physical materials. The All Ready Access/Schlow-to-School Program has become a solution to this for our school community,” said Corl Street Elementary School librarian Paije Davis, who oversees the district library department. “As SCASD’s library coordinator, I am extremely proud and grateful to be a part of this unique collaborative effort. How wonderful to be able to say that SCASD and Schlow are providing free library services to everyone in the district.”
The partnership began in 2018 when Schlow books began to be delivered to SCASD’s middle schools. Two years later, during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning spurred Schlow and the district to expand the access and delivery program to all grades.
“Because of the pandemic, we realized that we needed to get students access to all of Schlow’s services quickly,” State High librarian Cathi Fuhrman said. “That’s when the All Ready Access program really took hold.”
Fuhrman, who sits on the AASL Board of Directors, nominated the partnership to the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association for submission to the AASL Chapter Assembly. The 50 AASL chapters unanimously voted to move the All Ready Access/Schlow-to-School Program commendation to the AASL Board for approval. With Fuhrman abstaining, the partnership commendation was approved — one of 11 recognitions nationwide.
“This collaborative program should be a model for partnerships between other public libraries and schools, which have the potential to tear down barriers and help students and staff alike succeed,” PSLA President Aimee Lin Emerson said. “When schools and communities work together, they demonstrate the true value of education and cooperation in a dynamic society.”
During the 2021-2022 school year, students borrowed 33,946 items, 4,909 of them delivered to the school through the Schlow-to-School program. Already this school year, 122 students and 99 staff have received 1,401 items though those deliveries, and 946 new students have received new library cards.
“It’s great to see students dive into their passions,” said Schlow library assistant Colleen Fisher, who oversees the deliveries. “One little guy has requested every Minecraft book in the county. We are so happy to help facilitate these being delivered right to him and other students, eliminating as many barriers as we can to help them grow and expand their world.”
Those taking advantage of the program appreciate how it supplements the district libraries’ already diverse and extensive collections.
“The Schlow-to-School Program is really beneficial for students and teachers alike because it gives us more access to great literature and informative nonfiction, which only adds to our school library.” — Park Forest Middle School eighth-grader Mae Schnable
“As a teacher who loves books and is a parent of three young, avid readers, the Schlow-to-School program has been a game changer for us. In the summer, we go to Schlow once a week to find books, and this program allows us to continue to read new books regularly without heading downtown during the school year.” — Park Forest Middle School social studies teacher Jamie Brennan
“Our school librarians and libraries are incredible resources, and paired with Schlow, it feels that anything I could ever need is available and convenient. There's nothing like visiting the actual library, but with our busy schedules, the ease of logging onto the Schlow website and requesting titles to be delivered to me at work is a luxury I still can't get over.” — Ferguson Township Elementary kindergarten teacher Rachel Shukan
None of it would be possible, Davis noted, without the many partners within the partnership. “There are so many people who make this successful and I’m grateful for all of them,” she said. “Now, my only hope is to see more people take advantage of this service.”
By Chris Rosenblum
Photos by Nabil K. Mark