Ridgefield Librarians Keeping Kids Reading with Curbside Checkout

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When Ridgefield schools transitioned to remote learning, librarians Emily Crawford, Jill Guccini, and Jubilee Roth wanted to continue to put actual books in students’ hands—even while the school buildings were closed. Curbside Checkout became a perfect solution.

Curbside Checkout is modeled on Fort Vancouver Regional Library System’s successful curbside service. Students start at a central website for Ridgefield school libraries: ridgefield.follettdestiny.com . They can 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.

An email goes out when the books are ready for pickup. The elementary schools have scheduled curbside pickup times; the intermediate, middle, and high schools have book bins outside the schools for extended hours. Books are returned the same way, through the curbside pickup or book bins.

To ensure the safety of students, families, and library staff, social distancing and masks are required for curbside pickup. As an additional safety measure, all returned materials are isolated for four or more days 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.”

Older students have options for finding new books too. Guccini, the librarian for Sunset Ridge Intermediate, View Ridge Middle, and Ridgefield High Schools, recommends using the online Resource Lists. “Library Catalog Resource Lists are basically recommendations of books from us. 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.” Guccini also has an Instagram account at guccini_libraries to provide information and showcase new titles.

In addition to the Curbside Checkout program, all of the librarians spend time with remote learning classes to promote reading. Guccini partners with English classes, where she talks about library programs and reminds students that reading for fun can help decrease anxiety. And 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.”

The Ridgefield school librarians are working hard to provide services for students across the Ridgefield School District, and they are happy to be reaching even more students with Curbside Checkout. Roth said, “The most important job in the library is to get books in the hands of kids. The physical books are the heart of the library. I’m glad we’re able to do curbside for that.”

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