Diving into Library To-Go Bags
By Fraya Brattebo, Chagrin Falls Middle School, 8th Grade
(with a special note from Angie Jameson, Chagrin Falls School Library Media Specialist)
In an ever-changing world, libraries act as a constant, the corner piece of a puzzle on which to build. School libraries act as a meeting place, study area, and bookkeeper. Students can grab a fiction novel, research for a paper, or hang out with friends. Unfortunately, this year has made libraries’ place in the world shaky. As fomite transmission of Covid-19 is possible, if rare, it makes handing out books to students more challenging. Our school has created programming featuring personalized grab-and-go bags that allow students to obtain books and activities safely.
Chagrin Falls Schools have run three different learning models this year, so finding a flexible program was key. Our 7-12 Library Media Specialist, Angie Jameson, has been crucial in implementing and thinking of ideas that work for all students. Library To-Go bags are an inclusive and fun activity for all students. I have the personal experience of participating in all three learning models: hybrid, all online, and all in person. Library To-Go bags have worked for me in each model. This has been a great way to find a new read and feel connected to the library and my peers.
Each bag has crafts, baking supplies, a personalized book list and a handpicked book. The library sends out a Google Form to students which allows them to choose which activities they would like to receive. Then, each student provides which book genres and titles they have liked in the past. This allows for people in the library to match a book to their tastes. From there, students pick which crafts they would like and check a box with what learning model they attend. After forms are submitted, the information goes to library interns and staff to make the bags. To build the personalized book lists, Jameson and her team used NovelistPlus and Google Slides. They also include links to books available on our digital platform: Sora: bit.ly/FebBookListCF.
In the past, bags have been filled with crafts including book planters, newspaper luggage tags, banners, and bookmarks. Students can ask for map activities and baking ingredients as well. Some bakes have included strawberry cupcakes and basketball-themed cake pops. Each activity comes with instructions and all the materials needed for completion. These crafts have components composed of recycled materials, Our library used old weeded books and magazines to repurpose and utilize them for the To-Go bags. In addition, our library media specialist films tutorial videos to help virtual academy students feel connected to the school community: bit.ly/JamesonYoutube.
In the fall, I attended school in a hybrid model. This model consisted of half-days of in-person and virtual learning. While in this model, bags were given to students as they left the building for the day to be completed at home. In the winter, our district transitioned to remote learning for just under a month. Library To-Go bags were especially helpful and fun in this model. I was not going to school and seeing my teachers and friends face to face. The bags really helped me feel connected. Our school set up material pick-up days for all virtual students, so parents would pick up the bags this way. Then at home, I could complete the crafts and enjoy the book I was given. This model is a harder way to learn for most students, so the Library To-Go program helped me feel included. It gave me the sense of community and familiarity I needed when I could not be at the school building.
This spring, I am going to school for the full day, all in-person, and I can grab my own To-Go bag at the end of the school day. Even though I am at school in a normal capacity, these activities help me relax. A good craft or reading time can help me forget any stresses of the day. Covid times can be hard because of social isolation or other outside stress with family members. Having a way to relax is very helpful. Library To-Go bags have activities that are perfect for just that.
The Library To-Go program has been an innovative, enjoyable, and inclusive way to showcase our school library this year. Through all the learning models I have done, this program holds up. Crafts, books, and baking supplies are an amazing way to get students involved in the library and having fun. This program has widened the knowledge of our library’s resources among students. As the year comes to a close, I will most definitely miss this program. Our school has loved the Library To-Go bag program, and I hope that others will find joy in it too.
Note from Angie Jameson, School Library Media Specialist:
While faced with various challenges at the start of the school year, I was eager to devise a plan to provide programming for students even while our libraries were not prepared to host visitors. The grab-and-go programming discussed in this blog has drawn the most interest from students/staff compared to any other program I’ve offered in my four years as a library media specialist. I encourage you to offer a grab-and-go program at your school, and I hope the resources provided will help you get started.
October Program Plan: bit.ly/OctLibProgram
November Program Plan: bit.ly/NovLibProgram
December Program Plan: bit.ly/DecLibProgram
Winter Break Program Plan: bit.ly/WinterBreakLibProgram
February Program Plan: bit.ly/FebLibProgram
Spring Break Program Plan: bit.ly/SpringBreakLibProgram