If you acquired materials for your collection:
How many print? Approximately 390 (also about 15 audiobook Playaways to be circulated as a set with the hard copy)
How many circulations? Over 22,000
How was the target audience of this project?
Our project targeted the population of Park View Middle School, an urban ring school in Cranston. The audience included:
Children and teens (our students range from 12-14)
Adults (faculty and staff)
Ethnic or racial minority populations
Individuals with disabilities (IEP and 504)
Individuals with limited literacy or informational skills (self contained special education population)
What were the benefits (changes in knowledge, confidence, behavior or awareness) of this project in your community?
Our students have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. In September, many students returned to in person learning after 18 months of being home. The lack of access to physical books made our students hungry for visits to the library where they could browse, sit on our couches and read and leave with stacks of books to take home. For some of our students, the school library is the only place they have access to books. Maybe the public library is too far to walk to...maybe finances do not allow for purchasing books-- all of these things factor in to the day to day operation of a school library. However, budgets are tight. Reading levels are vast and without generous grants such as this grant provided by ARPA, it is almost impossible to target all reading and interest levels.
Last year, we circulated 4,217 physical books (e-books were utilized during distance learning as well). This year, as of May 25th, we have circulated 21,612 physical books. While things are different in terms of having all students 100% in person this year, I do not believe the total circulation would have been as high if not for the ARPA grant. Money from this grant helped increase collections in the following areas:
In addition to buying fiction and non-fiction for students, we added to our faculty lending library. In order for PVMS to be a community of readers, we need to give the staff options to read as well.
The following text was published in the Cranston Herald:
The day before The Office of Library and Information Services American Rescue Plan Act grant applications were due Park View Middle School Librarian Stephanie Mills decided to submit an application despite not thinking the application would meet the criteria that the Committee was looking for.
She was glad she did when the school was awarded $7,500 to purchase new traditional books and audio books and to replace those lost during the pandemic.
Mills explained that the school library usually doesn't get that level of grant funds for materials and wanted to take advantage of it by getting input from the students about what they want to see in the library.
Students were asked to fill out a Google Form which asked them questions like what kind of genres they want to see, and if there were any specific books or series they would like the library to purchase. In total 206 students filled out the form and some also told her in person.
"I was really overwhelmed with the response," Mills said.
From there she worked on purchasing as many of those books and audio books as possible. In some cases she was able to determine that the library already had some books in their collection that was requested and she was able to tell those students that.
"It was a nice way for me to have more of a connection with students," she said.
Mills said that the biggest genre of books that students requested were graphic novels, which she said might be what previous generations call comic books, even though graphic novels are “far from it.”
“There are many amazing historical graphic novels that take complex topics like Japanese Internment camps or the Holocaust as well as biographies of famous historical figures and they pair the informational text with beautiful illustrations,” Mill said in an email. “I also had many requests for mysteries and realistic fiction.”
Mills explained that one of the most important things a librarian can do is to make sure there is something for everyone to read no matter someone's reading level or what genres they enjoy most.
"The name of the game for me is just to be able to make the collection as inclusive as possible. Books are mirrors and kids want to see themselves reflected in the books," Mills said.
So far Mills has purchased about half the books and audio books that they are planning on purchasing. Some of the books that were requested aren't going to be released until after the New Year so she will be holding off on buying the second half of the material until then. In total Mills is planning to purchase around 400-450 materials.
"I'm probably doubling what I would've gotten otherwise," she said.
This year Mills said that they have more students reading and listening to audio books which she calls "reading with my ears," than ever and she couldn't be more pleased with it.
She said that since the first day of school Park View has circulated over 9,200 books between hard copies, audiobooks and e-books. She said during COVID the numbers for the full year were about 7,500 for the whole year and for the 2019-2020 school year about 12,000 items were circulated through the Library for the full year.
“To be at 9,200 the first week of December let's me know we are on target to blow that previous number out of the water and that kids are excited to have choice and voice in what they read. At Park View, we are creating reading habits that will, hopefully, continue into student's adulthood,” Mill said.
She attributed a lot of increased reading to the fact that the public library reduced services last year and students relied on the school library. Also, for part of the year when students were in remote learning they didn't have access to the library in person at all and were eager to be able to access books in person on a regular basis again.
"It's incredible how much they are reading," Mills said.
Impact on Students:
"The books in the library are very diverse with different genres. My personal favorite are biographies including the "Who was, What was, and Where was" series. Before I became a student in Park View Middle School I wasn't much of a reader. I believe it's because my old school didn't have good biographies, but after becoming a student in this school, I spend most of my time in the library reading." -L.N., 8th grade student
"I really enjoyed reading the diverse selection of books my school library received, it's amazing to have so many available!" - T.C., 8th grade student
New books in the hands of students sends a message: you deserve the best. I love being able to hand a student a book that I know they will love. COVID learning loss has resulted in my library needing to provide literature for many different reading levels and sometimes our budgets cannot handle the amount of what we need. Grants and gifts such as this help us spread the joy of reading to everyone, regardless of reading level or interest. -Steph Mills
The books we have received from this grant have made a tangible difference in student reading habits. Students are much more eager to read the modern, exciting books that are now in the library. This is helping students get reading back into their daily routine post-distance learning. -Garret McWeeney
For the past few years, Cranston has partnered with FNI Global to create 21st century schools and 21st century learning. This includes Project Based Learning. Park View had three classrooms of students focused on a PBL project centered on reading. Students started by identifying a problem: some students are not really interested in reading or are not sure about what to read next. They wanted data about student's feelings and attitudes towards reading. To begin, students looked at what are the reading "trends." They had me create circulation reports to be analyzed. They saw that most students are reading graphic novels and I explained I'd love to have a greater interest in non-fiction because we purchased some based on the Title Team recommendations. From there, students wanted to assess student attitudes. To gather that information, they created a school wide reading survey and had over 600 students respond. They found that over 87% felt the school library was meeting their reading needs and many of the responses said it was because of all of the new books we had! Students have now come up with a plan to reach students who want more "access" including a mobile reading cart that would circulate to homerooms and the lunch room to give students an opportunity to see new books without having to find extra time to get to the library. I was really proud of what the students accomplished during this time.