Back in March when schools in the Ridgefield School District transitioned to remote learning, district librarians Emily Crawford, Jill Guccini and Jubilee Roth wanted to continue putting actual books in the hands of students, even while school buildings were closed. Thus, the Ridgefield School District put together a curbside checkout program as a solution.
Modeled after the Fort Vancouver Regional Library System’s curbside service, students begin the process of checking out a book from a central website for Ridgefield school libraries at ridgefield.follettdestiny.com. Students can then search for the books they need on the catalog tab or click on “Destiny Discover” to find new books and popular titles. By clicking the link to the school’s order form, students can place a hold on the books they want.
“Library Catalog Resource Lists are basically recommendations of books from us,” said Jill Guccini, the librarian at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School who also has an Instagram account @guccini_libraries to provide information and showcase new titles said in a news release. “So, kids can go find books on sports, books with LGBT characters, whatever they’re interested in. There are a whole bunch of different lists for kids to search through if they don’t know where to start.”
Once the books are ready to be picked up, the student or parent checking out the book receives an email from the district. The elementary schools have scheduled curbside pickup times while the intermediate, middle and high schools have installed book bins outside the schools for extended hours. Once finished, books are returned the same way they were received.
To ensure the health and safety of students, families and staff, social distancing protocols and masks are required for curbside pickup. Along with this, all returned materials are isolated before they are put back into circulation.
Curbside checkout also has a new way for elementary school students to find books they might be interested in. A grab-bag style program called Library Sampler lets students list the type of books they like, and librarians pick books that are appropriate and fun for their grade level.
“It solves the problem for kindergarteners, for example, who haven’t even been to our libraries,” Union Ridge librarian Roth explained. “And for other kids who usually pick a book by flipping it open and looking through it, we can pick some surprises for them.”
In addition to the new checkout program, all of the librarians spend time with remote learning classes to promote reading. Guccini partners with Ridgefield English classes where she talks about library programs and reminds students that reading for fun can help decrease anxiety.
The elementary school librarians lead Zoom classes for each grade. Crawford, the librarian at South Ridge, enjoys interacting with the students.
“I take it as a compliment to libraries that they want to be there (in the live Zoom class). They come because it’s fun. Our goal is to make it fun and enjoyable, something they want to do.”