Pandemic Problems, Creative Solutions
We recently added beautifully illustrated Spanish-language picture books to a new collection called the Spanish Art of the Picture Book Collection thanks to a trip to Guadalajara taken by two of our librarians. When the pandemic hit, we had to think of new ways to get these materials out to Spanish-speaking patrons, since patrons weren't allowed in our buildings, and many didn't know how to search LINKcat to find the Spanish Art of the Picture Book Collection.
To combat this, Tammy Ocampo, Youth Services Manager, and Annie Weatherby Flowers, the Community Engagement Coordinator, worked with Holly Storck-Post, the then-Youth Services Librarian at Pinney to pilot a home delivery program that would share the Spanish Art of the Picture Book collection with the community. They focused on using their connections with the Madison Metropolitan School District to ensure that they could reach a large group of kids and families.
The Right Books at the Right Time
The home delivery pilot launched the week of January 25th, 2021. The initial partnership connected Madison Public Library with in-home Spanish-speaking childcare providers who were part of Satellite Family Child Care. Tammy and Holly presented at a Satellite town hall and invited Satellite childcare providers to apply for the program. Once signed up for the program, providers could use their organization’s library card to request books. A new partnership with Union Cab delivery allowed the program to distribute a new box of books (many from the Spanish Art of the Picture Book collection) to each childcare provider every month.
“The books that the daycare has received are very appropriate for my group. My group enjoys looking at and having me read the stories,” said one daycare provider.
In the first week of the program, seven new organization library accounts were created, eight bins of books were delivered, and 110 books were checked out by providers! Now that the program has been going on for several years, it has expanded significantly, bringing on new book recipients and operating in an even more efficient way thanks to new partnerships for delivery.
Expanding Partners, Improving Processes
As we moved out of the emergency phase of the pandemic and back to more normal operations, we were able to transition the home delivery program into the next phase. In October 2021, we changed our partner for delivery from Union Cab to Madison Reading Project, who we already partner with on many other initiatives.
"Madison Reading Project specializes in book delivery directly to families and youth-serving organizations, and has dedicated storage space, a vehicle, and staffing to support our delivery model," said Holly. "This change helped us provide better service to providers thanks to the delivery drivers’ experience working with educators and their knowledge of library services. It also reduced the carbon footprint of the program by consolidating deliveries, strengthened our existing partnership with Madison Reading Project and saved money."
With this change, came expansion of the program. We added new partners outside of the initial in-home daycares through Satellite providers. New partners include MMSD's Play and Learn program, a Spanish-language daycare center, and a couple of after-school sites.
In late spring 2023 we expanded the Youth Delivery program to include delivery of library books to One City Elementary School, a partner who we value and who does not currently have a school library on their campus. Each elementary classroom was set up with an Organization Library Card. This expansion has allowed us to connect with One City teachers and staff and to provide books to support both their curriculum needs and the leisure reading needs of their students.
Building Literacy, Strengthening Ties
One of the greatest benefits of the Home Delivery program has been the strengthening of relationships between childcare providers and the Madison Public Library. Our focus on equity has included being intentional about trying to reach Spanish-speaking communities, and this targeted program was a great way to match up a very special collection with the groups who would most benefit from and appreciate it. After three years, the program has 14 sites that receive books in Spanish every month, and the number of books provided by the service grows each year. Holly has found the increased communication with local childcare providers highly rewarding,
“The best feedback is that these books are being loved and enjoyed,” said Holly. She received multiple notes of thanks:
- My toddlers love going to the bin to get books!
- The children love the books and also the craft envelopes
- Thank you for this service- it couldn't be more appreciated!
- Todo está perfecto gracias
- Thank you for all that you are doing. Very useful program
- Todo es perfecto muchas gracias por ayudarnos trayéndonos libros para los niños.
- Solo que Me encanta!!!! Muchas gracias Holly
- Gracias por el programa para mis niños a sido una gran ayuda por la variedad.
- Thank you we love this program
- Mi familia, los niños del cuidado y yo estamos encantados con este proyecto, gracias a todos los que trabajan para que esto sea posible. gracias!
Learning & Play Come Together
In fact, one provider has been coming up with and sharing extra-fun activities that correspond with the books that are being delivered, including creating a picture frame inspired by a book cover for children to pose with.
The Spanish Art of the Picture Book Collection, and the Home Delivery Program were both team efforts that required the help of many different Madison Public Library staff members. Without the support of staff from Technical Services, delivery, individual branches, and administration, we wouldn’t be able to share these engaging books by Spanish-speaking authors and illustrators with the Madison community. Check out the Spanish Art of the Picture Book collection here: https://bit.ly/pinneysaopb.