By Mary Getchell, Communications Director, Pierce County Library System
TACOMA – Pierce County Library System (Library System) received a regional community leadership award from Region 111 of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) on Friday, May 17. WASA’s Region 111 membership is comprised of all Pierce County public school districts. The Association was recognizing Pierce County Library for its partnership efforts with Franklin Pierce Schools (School District), just south of Tacoma.
The Library System and School District initiated an effort at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year to provide a library card to each of the 7,500 students enrolled in the School District. By December, every student had received their own library card. As part of this program – dubbed “Card in Every Hand”– the Library System also began monitoring card usage. Since December 2012, students have checked out an average of 2,262 items per month. As both the Library System and School District are committed to seeing that number grow, the organizations identified data monitoring as an important first step in determining progress. “We want our students to be lifelong readers because studies show that avid readers are strong learners,” said Dr. Frank Hewins, Superintendent of Franklin Pierce Schools. As the Library System and School District promote reading among the students, both organizations will track the data to monitor progress. The “Card in Every Hand” project was quite an undertaking, and it required an ongoing commitment of several staff from both the Library System and school district.
“The project is a great success—both for the students and showing a significant community, good government partnership with Franklin Pierce Schools,” said Neel Parikh, Executive Director for Pierce County Library. “We are incredibly honored that the Washington Association of School Administrators is recognizing this important work and service with a community leadership award.”
Additionally, the Library System and School District have created a hybrid librarian position to sustain and grow the partnership between the two organizations. “As we continually seek to make our operation more efficient and effective, we’ve begun to explore with outside agencies opportunities to collaborate and combine similar services. In many cases, this has saved both organizations and outside agencies from having to cut staff, but more importantly – it has maintained, and arguably even enhanced the level of service – available to our kids,” said Dr. Frank Hewins, Superintendent of Franklin Pierce Schools.
The “Card in Every Hand” project has been a success for both the Library System and School District. So much so, that the Library System and other Pierce County school districts have begun talks to develop similar partnerships.