The Ann Arbor District Library provides access to incredible resources and programs in Washtenaw County, and they just happen to be our neighbor, community partner, and friend. This month, we are delighted to recognize the outstanding work of the AADL and how their partnership with us has helped so many volunteers and students throughout the year.
There are some things you probably think you know about the library — that the staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable, for example, and that the library’s collections are extensive. This is true: the AADL constantly provides us with inspiration and ideas, books and other media to support our programs — all we have to do is ask (by phone, over email, or in person). No matter the topic or specificity of our program (we’re looking for a book of short poems about pets for early writers; reference materials for high school students writing about Motown; resources for elementary school-aged writers translating their poems from English to Spanish; how about Michigan-based historical short fiction for middle school students? Oh, and we’re also teaching a workshop on biological mimicry — what do you have about that?), the library quickly finds truly pertinent and helpful tools for us to use. Not only that, our librarian friends claim they love a good challenge that some 826michigan programs provide. It’s consistently invigorating for us to work with a team so dedicated to helping young readers find the books they’ll love to read, and the ideas and inspiration to write that come with them.
You may not know, however, that the library collection includes more than books, audio and visual media: there’s a wide world of what the library calls “unusual stuff” (we call “awesome — we can check out a theremin AND a moon globe AND a set of giant dominos!?”), which provide us with the ability to give students new, hands-on ways of engaging with learning during our programs. The library also provides public lists of titles about a given theme or topic, curated by the AADL staff (and by community members, too!). AADL has created public lists to accompany each of our field trip seminars, so that teachers and students can have ideas for pre-and-post field trip reading, to help become familiar with the genre we’ll talk with them about at 826michigan!
This leads us to another exciting part of our AADL partnership over the past two years: the library has created a squeal to the 826michigan field trip experience, and it’s the best kind of sequel, one that can be enjoyed immediately! The 826michigan programs team and the library worked together with teachers in Ann Arbor Public Schools to create the content of an additional hour of literary engagement for students after their 826michigan visit. At 826michigan, students write stories to thwart Dr. Blotch, or collaborate to solve mysteries or test our life-sized poetry board game. They become published authors that morning and leave with a printed book of their own writing. They then walk around the corner to the downtown branch of the AADL for book talks, tours of the libraries collections, storytelling, and other fun activities connected to what students are reading and writing in school. The library then places a copy of the students’ new 826michigan publication on the shelf, as a part of their permanent collection. Not only have the students been published in a day, but their work is then made available to a wide readership through the library, and they have the access to more writers through resources from the library (including, whenever possible, library cards for all students). Funding for transportation for the entire field trip day is made possible by the library for six classes from our partner school, Mitchell Elementary.
In addition to all of these things, the library partners with 826 to train incoming interns and workshop leaders, helping them to prepare for presence in front of a room of students and giving them tips from their storytelling techniques. The trainings include a tour of the library’s many resources, which is in turn inspire fantastic, multi-faceted writing activities for our students.
We couldn’t be more grateful for the support and partnership of the AADL, especially the teamwork from Laura Raynor, Kelsey Ullenbruch, and Elizabeth Pearce.